American History03 Sep 2008 01:33 pm
The most tragic episode of American history was also one of the longest-lived. The horrors of slavery finally ended in 1865 after a long and bloody civil war. But they were soon followed by the horrors of lynching, which added another century of indignity to the 400-year abomination of slavery.
In 2000, Americans were given a shocking reminder of just how horrid this century-long crime was. The reminder was given to them by a collector named James Allen. Between 1975 and 2000, Allen built an odd and disturbing collection. It began when he found a postcard in a small antique shop that depicted a lynching. However, the crowd was not reacting with the appropriate degree of horror. In fact, they treated the event as a social outing. Rather than shying away from the camera, they were posing in front of it, a burned and hanged body behind them like the Eiffel Tower in the background of a family snapshot. Allen soon discovered that postcards like this one were very common, and he began to collect them. He finally displayed his collection in 2000 in one of the most disturbing photography exhibits ever presented. The name of the exhibit, and the book that was published at the same time, was Without Sanctuary. With state governments doing nothing to prevent lynching, and a federal law prohibiting the practice never being passed, many Southern Blacks were truly without sanctuary from these horrifying acts. To be reminded yourself just how horrifying these acts were, click here to view a photo-gallery of the postcards. Be forewarned: they are very graphic.
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