Document 12: "Directions for Buffalo Key Women," [1922], NAACP Papers, Part 7: The Anti-Lynching Campaign, 1912-1955, Series B: Anti-Lynching Legislative and Publicity Files, 1916-1955, Library of Congress (Microfilm, Reel 3, Frame 238).

Document 12: "Directions for Buffalo Key Women," [1922], NAACP Papers, Part 7: The Anti-Lynching Campaign, 1912-1955, Series B: Anti-Lynching Legislative and Publicity Files, 1916-1955, Library of Congress (Microfilm, Reel 3, Frame 238).


      From October to December of 1922 the Anti-Lynching Crusaders planned to lead "the biggest and swiftest movement ever undertaken by Colored women" and they hoped to attract white women and black men to their cause. This Crusade was to consist of prayer and fundraising activities to raise money for the NAACP's campaign to press for passage of the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill. This pamphlet describes these objectives, and, like many other pamphlets published by the Anti-Lynching Crusaders, includes lynching reports. This time the deaths of two Mexican miners and the outcry surrounding the events of the Herrin mine massacre of June 1922 were compared to a brutal lynching of an African-American man in Tennessee.[24] While the author of this pamphlet was quick to point out that the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill would have made the prosecution of the perpetrators of the Herrin massacre much easier, the object of the comparison was to highlight the relative obscurity of incidents of lynchings involving African Americans compared to the presidential attention the Herrin mine massacre received.

Directions for Buffalo Key Women

        This Crusade promises to be the biggest and swiftest movement ever undertaken by Colored women. The women of the race have always stood by the men in the hour of need. The hour has come when their help is most needed and they should stand firmly together to sweep away this evil which is not only an injustice that falls most heavily upon the negro, but which makes our nation a by-word of scorn. 2000 of the most prominent White Women in the country has joined us, leading, outstanding women.

1st Attend sunrise prayer Meeting October 1st--7 A. M. Michigan Avenue Baptist Church--"To your knees and don't stop praying" until God answers. Some of the clergymen will be present and will speak.
2nd Wear your button daily until December 31st.
3rd Obtain receipt book from Mrs. Adelaide Hamilton Tucker, at 179 Clinton Street (Black Swan Record Shoppe) and fill your book. Return same to her.
4th Pray every day at noon.
5th Sacrifice every nonessential either during 1st week of October, November or December. Give this sacrifice to stop lynching--after reading the following account of a lynching can you afford to remain quiet?


        The special grand jury in Williamson County, Illinois, is finishing its investigation of the Herrin mine killings of last June. Forty-eight indictments have been returned and others, doubtless, will be voted before the final report is made.

        It was a difficult thing to do. It took weeks of tireless endeavor on the part of President Harding, and he was frequently compelled to acknowledge his inability as an executive to deal effectively with the situation. He frankly admitted that he was shocked to find that the government of the United States is powerless to protect the people against the two organized interests that control one of the prime necessities of life.

        Attention is being called to the fact that the men are indicted not because they are union men, but for murder, for conspiracy to commit murder, and for rioting. They will not be put on trial as Union miners, but as men who are charged with murder and bloody violence. It is important that this be kept in mind, for attempts will be made by both labor and capital to paint these traits in borrowed colors.

        Yet, how comparatively simple would have been the whole procedure had the Dyer bill been a law. There would have been no confusion in the issue, and we would not have had the spectacle of a President going to Congress to ask for power to protect the alien--two Mexicans were killed in the Herrin massacre--when thousands of American citizens are being lynched without the protection of their government.

        "The Herrin butchery," as the newspapers, Congressmen, Chief Executive, in fact all America calls the affair. Do you remember the pitiable story of the occurrence? Read it again, but as you do so, read the following account of a lynching which occurred in this country, in Tennessee. No, it was not the Turks murdering American Christians, nor the barbarians putting to death their enemies; it was Americans torturing Americans, in America, witnessed by hundreds of other Americans:

        "The Negro was seated on the ground and a buggy axle driven into the ground between his legs. His feet were chained together with logging chains and he was tied with Wire. A fire was built. Pokers and flatirons were procured and heated in the fire. It was thirty minutes before they were red hot. His self-appointed executors burned his eye-balls with red hot irons. When he opened his mouth to cry for mercy a red hot poker was rammed down his gullet. Red hot irons were placed on his feet, back and body until a hideous stench of burning human flesh filled the Sabbath air of Dyersburg. Thousands of people witnessed this scene. They had to be pushed back from the stake to which the Negro was changed. Roof tops second-story windows and porch tops were filled with spectators. Children were lifted to shoulders that they might behold the agony of the victim. A little distance away, in the public square, the best citizens of the country supported the burning and torturing with their nearby presence.

        The Memphis News-Scimitar thus describes the scene:

               Not a domino hid a face. Everyone was unmasked. Leaders were design[at]ed and assigned their parts. Long before the mob reached the city the public square was choked with humanity. All waited patiently. Women, with babies, made themselves comfortable.

               At last the irons were hot.

               A red streak shot out; a poker in a brawny hand was boring out one of the Negro's eyes. The Negro bore the ordeal with courage, only low moans escaping him. Another poker was working like an auger on the other orbit.

               Swish. Once, twice, three times a red hot iron dug gaping places in Latin Scott's back an sides. 'Fetch a hotter one,' somebody said. The execution went on.

               Now some one had another poker--jabbing its fiery point into the ribs of the doomed black.

        Then rubbish was piled high about the agonized body, squirming beneath its load.

        More and more wood and rubbish were fed the fire, but at 3 o'clock Lation Scott was not dead. Life fled at 4 o'clock. Women scarely changed contenance as the Negro's back was ironed with the hot brands. Even the executioners maintained their poise in the face of bloody creases left by the irons--irons which some housewife had been using.

        Three and a half hours were required to complete the execution."

* * *

back to top