Document 18: Mary B. Talbert to Mary White Ovington, 21 October 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 289).
In the following letter to Mary White Ovington, Mary B. Talbert stressed the importance of making the anti-lynching crusade an inter-racial movement. Talbert wrote, "We are anxious that southern white women as well as northern white women shall join us" and hoped that "white ministers" would "lift up their voices" against lynching. White women including Juliette V. Harring (see Document 16) and Mrs. Luke Johnson were sought out as supporters for the Anti-Lynching Crusaders. The well being of the nation was threatened by the continued incidence of lynching, a situation which the anti-lynching crusade hoped to remedy.
October 21st, 1922.
Mrs. Mary White Ovington
70 Fifth Ave.,
Dear Mrs. Ovington,
The hour has come in America for every woman, white and black, to save the name of her beloved country from shame by demanding that the barbarous custom of lynching and burning at the stake be stopped now and forever.
I am firmly convinced that your help and co-operation is need at this time. We are endeavoring to unite a million women of both races to strive for the abolishment of lynching. Enclosed pamphlet will tell you how and why the Anti-Lynching Crusaders formed. Enclosed prayer will tell you how from the agony of our hearts, we are asking your God and our God to lead us on in this crusade. We are anxious that southern white women as well as northern white women shall join us. We have already found a champion in the person of Mrs. Juliette V. Harring, a southern white woman, who prevented a lynching in her own state, Virginia. We are in communication, now, with Mrs. Luke Johnson of Atlanta, Georgia, and we believe that she will give us her support of her interracial committees.
We believe that God answers prayer and we are going to pray every day at noon during the months of October, November and December for God’s help in this particular movement. We want to urge upon white ministers to lift up their voices against this terrible blot upon America’s civilization and we want you to pray and work with us.
White women know that no better group of women could be found than the colored women during the perils of the Great World War and they also know, that no better group of women could be found for loyalty and support at any time our country, our state, our cities or our families are in danger.
Will you upon return mail send me your endorsement of this crusade, which has already been endorsed by the executive Board of the National Council of Women at its recent session, held in Des Moines, Iowa, also by Miss Zona Gale, noted playwright and author, Mrs. Nathaniel Harris, Honorary President of National Council of Jewish Women, and many, many others, and thus permit us to give added publicity with the hope of assisting American womanhood, determined to stamp out lynching and mob violence?
We are asking for your support and for your endorsement. We believe that every Christian woman in America stands against lynching and mob violence. The accompanying pamphlet will tell you that eighty three women have been lynched in America, white women as well as black women, and we are asking that you give your endorsement to this country wide movement among the women to abolish this great shame and danger to the nation.
This is an independent movement of women, working for one particular object to raise a fund to stop lynching, after which we will disband.
COLORED WOMEN ARE SACRIFICING ALL NON-ESSENTIALS DURING THE FIRST WEEK OF OCTOBER, NOVEMBER OR DECEMBER TO CONTRIBUTE TO THIS FUND to be deposited in the Guaranty Trust Company of New York on account tot he Anti-Lynching Crusaders. We hope to raise at least one million of dollars, every cent of which will be used to provide a legal defense fund. The success of this movement will mean the raising of this amount of money to help us put over the Dyer Anti Lynching Bill.
This is the first time in the history of the colored women that they have turned to their sister white organizations and asked for moral and financial support and as we have never failed you in any cause that has come to US, we do not believe that YOU will fail us now. Gifts, donations raised, either by pledges or personal donations, can be sent directly to the National Director, who will turn this over to the Guaranty Trust Company, of New York City who will handle this fund.
We will gladly appreciate a letter from you that we may know that you also wish to lend your support for the abolishment of this, the greatest shame and danger to the nation.
Yours for a better country with a fuller and truer meaning of democracy for which black as well as white boys died during the world war, I am
Mary B. Talbert