A Sacred Libation Ceremony in Remembrance on March 30
By Iya Marilyn Kai Jewett
Last week while reading articles on a Black news website, I noticed a link to an article about Black women who were lynched. Being a student of history, I followed the link which led to another Black website and read the story which detailed the history of 150 documented cases of Black women in the U.S. who had been lynched between 1870 and 1957. These “women,” many of whom were mere girls were not just lynched — they were raped and tortured before being hung, shot or burned by mobs of white men. The first three women on the list – Mrs. John Simes lynched in 1870 in Henry County, Kentucky and Mrs. Hawkins and her daughter, lynched in 1872 in Fayette County, Kentucky, were all murdered for being republicans!
I have been a student of history (American, Black/African and ancient history) since I was a child. I knew that thousands of African people in America have been lynched. Thanks to my god sister, Dr. Katrina Hazzard-Donald, director of Rutgers University’s Africana Program, I read “The Lynching Calendar” that lists 2,400 of the 5,000 documented lynchings of African people in the U.S., but I didn’t realize there were this many women lynched! The website with The Lynching Calendar” has since mysteriously disappeared.
A post on another Black website provided documented information on these women – their names, the dates, places, the reason they were lynched and with whom they were lynched. Reading this made me angry and brought tears to my eyes. I sent it to my email list and told the brothers and sisters to send it to every person of African descent they know. This is part of our history — Amerikkkan history that we must pass to our children and grandchildren. They will not learn this in school. It’s up to us to teach them.
After reading the accounts of the lynchings, the Egun (ancestors) spoke to me and directed me to do something so they will be remembered. I broke down and cried like a baby because I could feel the horror and pain that these women endured. I am crying as I write this article. Olódùmarè help me! Egun directed me to conduct a sacred libation ceremony to remember them and bring some peace to their souls.
I’m sure most people don’t know about these women, but we must never forget women like pregnant Mary Turner who was lynched May 17, 1918 in Brooks County, Georgia to teach her a lesson. After her husband was lynched, Mary threatened to have those who lynched her husband arrested. She fled, but the mob pursued her and found her the next morning. She was eight months pregnant when the mob of several hundred took her to a stream, tied her ankles together and hung her from a tree with her head down. She was doused with gasoline and set on fire. One of the mob took a knife and split her stomach open so that her unborn baby fell to the ground. The baby’s head was crushed under the heels of the mob. But, that wasn’t enough for the demonic mob. They finished Mary off by riddling her body with bullets.
Sisters Alma (16) and Maggie Howze (20) were both pregnant by Dr. E. L. Johnston, a dentist who used them both as his sex slaves, when lynched in 1918 in Mississippi for allegedly killing him. Eyewitnesses at Alma’s burial said that that the movements of her unborn baby could be detected.
Laura Nelson was accused of murdering a sheriff who had discovered stolen goods in her house. She was lynched together with her son (15), in 1911 in Okemah, Oklahoma. Laura and her son were taken from jail, dragged six miles to the Canadian River, where she was raped by the mob before she and her son were hung from a bridge.
The recent discussion about legislation introduced in Pennsylvania to mandate teaching the Jewish Holocaust didn’t and won’t include subjects like this. These lynchings are a part of the “African Holocaust – the Maafa” that some folks, including some Negroes, want us to forget. The Maafa included the Middle Passage, 300+ years of chattel slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation and continues to this day. For more information on these lynchings, go to https://henriettavintondavis.wordpress.com.
I am asking all spiritually-conscious women and men of African descent to join me 3:00PM, Sunday, March 30 at Congo (Washington) Square, 6th & Walnut Streets for a sacred libation ceremony in remembrance of our sisters. Please wear white – no black or dark colors. Bring your children because they must know and learn about this forgotten history so it will never be repeated. We must never forget these women – our sisters — who were brutally tortured and lynched. NEVER AGAIN!