Two innocent African American men, Horace Duncan and Fred Coker, were accused of sexual assault in April 1906 in Springfield, Missouri. Whites’ fears of interracial sex extended to any action by a black man that could be interpreted as seeking or desiring contact with a white woman, and whites’ allegations against black people were rarely subject to scrutiny during this era. Local publications agitated racist sentiments by blaming rising crime in Springfield on black residents.
Though both men had alibis confirmed by their employers, a mob refused to wait for a trial. On the night of April 14th, the mob used sledgehammers, telephone poles, and other tools of demolition to gain entry into the men’s jail cells. Just before midnight, the mob hanged Mr. Duncan and Mr. Coker, forcing them to jump from the goddess of liberty statue atop the courthouse with ropes around their necks. Then, there in the town square, the mob burned the men’s bodies and riddled their corpses with bullets before a crowd of 5000 white spectators. Newspapers later reported that both men were innocent of the rape allegation.
From the Equal Justice Initiative’s A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar.
“The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is proud to present A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar. America’s history of racial inequality continues to undermine fair treatment, equal justice, and opportunity for many Americans. The genocide of Native people, the legacy of slavery and racial terror, and the legally supported abuse of racial minorities are not well understood. EJI believes that a deeper engagement with our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing present-day questions of social justice and equality.