Episode 4: White Women and the Lynching Myth

This episode is named after an especially violent time in US history immediately following Reconstruction in the US South.  Frequent racial-terror lynchings were justified by what journalist Ida B. Wells called the lynching myth. The myth was rooted in two racialized stereotypes: sexually violent black men and sexually pure white women. When Wells publicized her analysis, she found herself in conflict with white women such as Frances Willard, a prominent social purity activist. Their debate offers significant insight into how white Victorians utilized sexual purity to signal their own racial supremacy.

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Southern Horrors and Other Writings by Ida B. Wells


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