Lynching most often occurred in the South, though not exclusively. And while other ethnic groups fell victim to the extrajudicial killings, Blacks were common targets of white vigilantes. For many African-Americans who grew up in the 19th and 20th centuries, lynching served as a painful reminder that the end of the Civil War in 1865 did not mean they were totally free.
In a July 1914 editorial titled “The Cause of Lynching” in the NAACP’s The Crisis magazine, of which he was founding editor, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote: “It is exceedingly difficult to get at the real cause of lynching but The Crisis is more and more convinced that the real cause is seldom the one alleged.”
Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as “brave and bold,” this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a “call to action.” (Amazon.com)