ANNUAL SACRED LIBATION CEREMONY FOR OUR SISTERS: The community remembers Black women lynched


The community remembers Black women lynched

Spiritually-conscious women and men of African descent will gather 3:00PM sharp, Sunday, March 29, rain or shine, at Congo (Washington) Square, 7th & Walnut Streets in Philadelphia for the Second Annual Sacred Libation Ceremony in remembrance of the 150 documented Black women who were lynched between 1870 and 1957.


Flyer for the 2015 Sacred Libation Ceremony to be conducted at 7th & Walnut Streets in Congo (Washington) Square Philadelphia, Pa.

In March 2014, the first annual Sacred Libation Ceremony for the women was conducted by Iya Marilyn Kai Jewett and a group of priests of Philadelphia’s African American Yoruba/Orisha community. Although it rained that day, approximately 30 people came to witness the ritual – some from as far as New York and Washington DC. The ceremony has now been instituted as an annual ritual on the last Sunday in March as part of Women’s History Month.

In addition to libation being poured by Jewett in the Yoruba tradition, women from other traditions also will participate. The Queen Mothers of the Philadelphia Asante NationNana Afua Afriyie Kyeiwaa, Philadelphiahemaa and Nana Akua Oforiwaa Amanfo, Philadelphia Asonahemaa, will pour libation in the Akan tradition from Ghana. They will be accompanied by the women of the Philadelphia Asante Abusuafoo. Other holy women participating includes well-known healer/education activist Mama Gail Clouden and her godchildren.

How did this all come about? Last year, while perusing stories on Dr. Boyce Watkins’ “Your Black World” news website, Jewett came across a story entitled, “Black women were lynched too!” written by blogger Yolanda Spivey. Although she was a student of history and knew about the list of 5,000 documented lynchings of people of African descent in the U.S., Jewett wasn’t aware of the number of women who were included. Neither was Spivey.

I can’t begin to tell how shocked I was to learn the depths of what happened to lynched Black men and women in this country,” said Spivey.  “I wasn’t naïve about the lynchings, but I was definitely naïve to learn the circumstances surrounding their murders.  The Black women in some cases were pregnant — and that didn’t matter to the white people who murdered them.  They were, in all circumstances, murdered for the silliest infractions or implicated in crimes that they did not commit.” 

Spivey’s story ( led Jewett to a website owned by Brother Nnamdi Azikiwe, that’s dedicated to Henrietta Vinton Davis, a prominent leader in Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). The website ( provides documented information on these women – their names, dates, places, why and with whom they were lynched. After reading details of the lynchings, the Egun (ancestors) began speaking to Jewett and instructed her that she must do more than send an email informing people about the history.

Amy Jacques Garvey, Henrietta Vinton Davis and Marcus Garvey

Amy Jacques Garvey, Henrietta Vinton Davis and Marcus Garvey

They needed libation poured for them to uplift and bring light their souls,” Jewett explained. They wanted to be remembered and have their stories told. They wouldn’t let me rest. It was physically and spiritually painful. I couldn’t sleep for the two weeks leading up to the ritual. I kept asking them why me? They replied that it was part of my destiny and that I had to do it.”

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By Marilyn Kai Jewett

Many of us who are students of history know about the thousands of Black men who were lynched in this nation. However, most don’t know about the many African American women who were also lynched. Last year, I came across a website dedicated to Henrietta Vinton Davis, a prominent and fearless leader in Marcus Garveys’ Universal

Laura Nelson is the only woman of whom a photograph is known to exist who was lynched in America.

Laura Nelson is the only woman of whom a photograph is known to exist who was lynched in America.

Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). The website included a listing of documented cases of African American women who had been lynched between 1870 and 1957. The website provides documented information on these women – their names, dates, places, the reason they were lynched and with whom they were lynched. Reading this made me angry and brought tears to my eyes. Reading the details of these lynchings is hard and painful, but necessary for those who want to know the truth. This is part of our history — Amerikkkan history – world history — that must be taught to our children and grandchildren. They will not learn this in school. It’s up to us to teach them the true history of the U.S. that proclaims that it’s “one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.” Right.

These “women,” many of whom were children, were not just lynched — they were raped and tortured before being hung, shot or burned by mobs of white men. Now days, African Americans ostracize Black people who are Republican. However, 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!

Many of these women were lynched for standing up for themselves and their families. If their husband or son was accused of a crime and couldn’t be found, the females in the family were lynched. Entire families, including the children were lynched together. Some were lynched merely because they were Black. Others were lynched because they dared to have a dispute with a white person.

Hannah Kearse was lynched in 1895 in Colleton, South Carolina with her mother and son for supposedly stealing a bible. Jennie McCall was lynched in 1903 in Hamilton, Florida by mistake! Mercy Hall was lynched in 1922 in Oklahoma City for strike activity. Eliza Bryant was lynched May 25, 1926 in Duplin, North Carolina for having the nerve to be successful. The last sister on the list, Mrs. Frank Clay, was lynched November 18, 1957 in Henderson, North Carolina for having a dispute with a white person. I was 3 years-old in 1957.

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 him 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 upside down. She was doused with gasoline and set on fire. One of the mob took a knife and split open her womb so that her unborn baby fell to the ground. The baby’s head was then crushed under the heels of her murderers. But, that wasn’t enough for the demonic mob. They finished Mary off by riddling her body with bullets – to teach her a lesson.


Flyer for the 2015 Sacred Libation Ceremony

Seventeen year-old Marie Scott was lynched on March 31, 1914 in Wagoner County, Oklahoma by a white mob of at least a dozen males. Two drunken white men had broken into her house as she was dressing and raped her. Her brother heard her screams for help, kicked down the door, killed one assailant and fled. Unable to find her brother, the mob lynched Marie. After she was arrested, the mob took Marie from jail, threw a rope over her head as she screamed and hung her from a telephone pole.

Sisters Alma, 16 and Maggie Howze (House) 20, were both pregnant by Dr. E. L. Johnston, a married, white dentist who used them both as his sex slaves, when beaten and hung in 1918 from a bridge near Shutaba, Mississippi for allegedly killing him. Alma was close to giving birth when lynched. Eyewitnesses at her burial said that that the movements of her unborn baby could be detected.

Laura Nelson was accused of murdering a sheriff who had supposedly discovered stolen goods in her house. She was lynched with her 15 year-old son 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.

Ann Barksdale (Ann Bostwick) was lynched in Pinehurst, Georgia on June 24, 1912 for supposedly killing her white, female employer. There was no trial and no statement was taken from Ann who authorities claimed had mental issues and should have been placed in a hospital. The mob was in a festive mood when they placed her in a car with a rope around her neck and the other end tied to a tree limb. Her murderers drove at a high speed until she was strangled to death. To make sure she was dead, the mob shot her eyes out and riddled her body with so many bullets that she was “cut in two.”

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/De Facto segregation and continues to this day. Some of those people – African American and white — who witnessed these lynchings as children are still around.

The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth on them.

The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth on them.  — Ida B. Wells

These African American women, men and children were lynched with the cooperation of local law enforcement – many of whom were leaders of the local Ku Klux Klan. However, there’s a different kind of lynch mob in 21st Century Amerikkka. People of African descent are still being lynched by those who uphold this tainted, blood-stained system – the police, the courts, politicians who make the laws and yes, the media. So when you speak of the modern day lynchings of Brandon Tate-Brown, Phil Africa, Michael Brown, Troy Davis, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant and the countless men of African descent whose lives were unlawfully taken by police and the judicial system, remember our sisters who were brutally lynched by the mob.

Much thanks and praises to the scholars who researched and uncovered this important history. Thanks and continued blessings also to Brother Nnamdi Azikiwe who posted the information on his website. For more information on these lynchings, go to

Once again, I am asking all spiritually-conscious women and men of African descent to join me 3:00PM, Sunday, March 29 at Congo (Washington) Square, 7th & Walnut Streets in Philadelphia for the Second Annual Sacred Libation Ceremony in remembrance of our departed sisters. Although we are doing this in Philly, the ancestors want to be remembered with sacred libation ceremonies throughout the nation. We must never forget these women – our sisters, our ancestors — who were brutally tortured and murdered. NEVER AGAIN!


The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth on them.

The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth on them.

The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth on them.

Ida B. Wells gives us our marching orders. We know 148 women of African ancestry were lynched in the United States of America. We will right those wrongs by turning the light of truth on them.

New York Jews Raise Over Six Million dollars: What of Negroes?

Amy Jacques Garvey, ”New York Jews Raise Over Six Million Dollars – What of Negroes?” Originally published in The Negro World, 5 June 1926.

The United Jewish campaign to raise $6,000,000 in Greater New York alone for the relief of Jews of Eastern Europe ended a few days ago. The amount was over-subscribed by $656,000. The national campaign aims to raise twenty-five million dollars, and from all indications this amount will also be over-subscribed.

The Bureau of Jewish Social Research estimates that there are only 3,600,00 0 Jews in this country, yet their ambition is to raise the enormous sum of twenty-five million dollars; not for their own benefit here, but to send to Europe to help their fellow-Jews who are in need. Such an example of racial love can not be too highly commended, as we ponder over the fellowship of these people, our thoughts return to our own race; but ah, how different it is with us. Fifteen million Negroes in America and what genius could get them to subscribe one dollar each for any laudable purpose that would benefit them here? As for sending money abroad to benefit Negroes in other countries, why almost every Negro newspaper would raise a storm of protest, and petty Negro politicians would shed greedy tears at the idea of American dollars going to help “foreign” Negroes. “Let them help themselves,” some of us would growl, “and if they can’t, that’s their hard luck.”

This accursed selfishness of the Negro has been his undoing, and until the Universal Negro Improvement Association has reached the heart of each and every one, he will continue to think of national boundaries and ignore racial ties.

Before Marcus Garvey gave birth to his great idea of a united Negro race — excepting none whether they be one per cent. or one hundred per cent.–West Indian Negroes were regarded by us as monkeys, and both groups regarded the African Negro as a maneater, thus unknowingly succumbing to the white man’s propaganda, and carrying out his policy of divide and rule. But Marcus Garvey showed them the folly of their way; he congregated thousands from different parts of the world in international conventions, where they heard each other’s tales of woe, compared notes, looked into each other’s eyes and felt the kinship of blood, and realized that all Negroes were brothers and their destiny was one. Now the Universal Negro Improvement Association can proudly boast of millions of members, whose concern is not where you were born, but are you a Negro.

This organization has a drive on for one million new members and one million dollars, to carry on its work of Negro uplift and African redemption, and we sincerely hope that the Jews will not put us to shame; but that in proportion to our meagre earnings we will oversubscribe the amount, which is a small amount indeed for the great work planned by our leader.

Jewish women have played an important part in making their campaign a success, and it is up to Negro women to rally to the call and round up the recruits and the dollars. One Jewish woman alone collected $161,200. Surely Negro women who have collected moneys to build so many churches, will now turn their attention to nation building, and thereby ensure the future for posterity.

This money must be raised and raised quickly. Extending the campaign over long indefinite periods will not help. A few hundred thousand dollars in the treasury of the organization could accomplish much along all lines, but small amounts coming in spasmodically cannot be used to advantage. Women! This is your opportunity to make your contribution to the race. Let the world know that Negroes can and will support their own cause and protect their brothers anywhere and everywhere.

The Lady Vanishes: Meet Henrietta Vinton Davis-one of the most amazing women you’ve probably never heard of | Baltimore City Paper

This article tells the journey of three men: their discovery of “The Shero of Our Story,” the lack of a marker on her grave, and the founding of the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation to rectify that historical oversight.

The Lady Vanishes: Meet Henrietta Vinton Davis-one of the most amazing women you’ve probably never heard of | Baltimore City Paper.

Livication Marker Unveiling 2013



For more information:
Vaunita Goodman (202) 291-1663


-Events to recognize cultural icon-

Washington, DC –Today the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation (HVDMF) announced plans to unveil a marker at the grave of its namesake in National Harmony Memorial Park. The Foundation has as its mission to raise awareness of the life and legacy of Shakespearean actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader and activist Henrietta Vinton Davis.

Miss Davis remained relatively unrecognized until July 1983 when an article entitled “Henrietta Vinton Davis and the Garvey Movement” by Professor William Seraile was published in the journal ‘Afro-Americans in New York Life and History’. Nearly a year later, acknowledgment of her contributions increased with the publication of the book ‘Shakespeare in Sable’ written by Professor Errol Hill of Dartmouth University. Her home in Northeast Washington, DC has been listed on Cultural Tourism DC’s African American Heritage Trail since 1999.

On Saturday July 20, 2013 the HVDMF starts the day off with an award presentation and celebration at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, culminating with the unveiling of a marker at Miss Davis’ grave site at National Harmony Memorial Park. Guest speakers and celebrants include:

Dr. William Seraile (Bruce Grit), Barbara Eklof (For Every Season), Kevin Grace (Friends of Joe Gans), Nnamdi Azikiwe (Vinton Davis Weblog) and Mwariama Kamau (UNIA). Producing partners for the occasion are Vaunita Goodman (MTPC) and Michon Boston (Iola’s Letter). Clayton LeBouef (Something The Lord Made, The Wire, Homicide) will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

In 2008, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty issued a proclamation designating August 25 ‘Henrietta Vinton Davis Day.’ The decree acknowledged Davis as the first African American to work at the DC Recorder of Deeds office beginning in 1878, before Frederick Douglass was appointed Recorder. She made her career debut as a Shakespearean actor, elocutionist and dramatic reader in Washington, DC on April 25, 1883 where she was introduced by Douglass, a family friend. The proclamation acknowledges the success of Miss Davis as a public speaker and cultural icon.

Celebration / Award Presentation recognizing Vera J. Katz, (Professor Emerita Howard University Theatre Arts) and others will be conducted in the A-5 Auditorium 11am-1:30-pm at the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Library 901 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C. (202)  727-0321

Livication / Henrietta Vinton Davis Marker Unveiling will be conducted 3pm-5pm at her grave site in National Harmony Memorial Park 7101 Sheriff Road Largo, MD (301) 772-0900

Events are free and open to the public.

About Henrietta Vinton Davis
For thirty-five years after her debut performing “Shakespearean delineations”, original plays and dramatic readings with her own performing company, and local troupes throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean, Henrietta Vinton Davis broke new ground as a successful theatrical artisan. Her commitment to her craft gained her recognition as the first African American “woman of the stage.”

During 1919, a year notable for its “Red Summer,” she joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League headed by Marcus Garvey.

As a leader of the African Redemption Movement, Davis made use of her acting skills to promote the aims and objectives of the UNIA. Her ability to “transport her listeners” to another place with her oratorical skills played a key role in both attracting members to the organization and promoting the Black Star Line Shipping Company. As such, she was elected to numerous positions including International Organizer, and Third Assistant President General of the UNIA. Additionally, as Vice President and a Director of the Black Star Line, Davis was the de facto authority aboard the Black Star Line’s flagship vessel, the S.S. Yarmouth, on its maiden voyage. The ship was laden with a cargo worth upwards of $5.000.000 destined for the Caribbean. On the ship’s return Marcus Garvey proclaimed Miss Davis “the greatest woman of the [African] race today” in a meeting at the UNIA’s Liberty Hall.

About The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation
Initially organized to raise funds for a marker at the grave of Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis

in 2005, the mission of The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation has evolved to include publishing books, producing plays, films/videos and conducting symposiums educating the general public about her life and the times in which she lived.

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A scene from the play Christophe by William Edgar Easton

Proclamation for Henrietta Vinton Davis Day

95 years ago today, Pregnant Mary Turner was lynched. Seven years after that, on the exact same date, Malcolm X was born.

95 years ago today, Pregnant Mary Turner was lynched. Seven years after that, on the exact same date, Malcolm X was born..

via 95 years ago today, Pregnant Mary Turner was lynched. Seven years after that, on the exact same date, Malcolm X was born..