The Reason

The threat of extreme physical violence against black men and women was a fact of American life well into the 20th century. Between 1882 and 1968 there were an estimated 4700 lynchings in the United States1 - most unprosecuted. While the majority of these attacks were committed in the southern states, lynchings occurred across the country. As the following political cartoon from the NAACP's The Crisis magazine suggests, violence on this order was a strong motivating factor in the Great Migration.

To Start You Thinking -

  • 1) Which element of the cartoon grabs your attention first?

    2) Who does the man in the black coat and hat symbolize? the man in the white coat and hat with the suitcase?

    3) What message is the creator of the cartoon presenting?

image from Albert A. Smith, "The Reason," in The Crisis, (March, 1920) as found in Farah Jasmine Griffin, Who Set You Flowin'?, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).

1Ron Schaumburg, "Mob Justice," The New York Times Upfront, February 28, 2000.

Last modified in October, 2011 by Rick Thomas