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The Great Migration
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Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-USZC4-4647]

The Lynching of Jesse Washington

Jessie Washington, age seventeen, worked on a farm outside Waco, Texas. In May 1916, he was convicted of murdering Lucy Fryer, his employer, who was white. Washington confessed to the crime and was sentenced to death by hanging. Within minutes of the sentencing, court spectators overwhelmed the officials and seized Washington. He was beaten, stripped, and dragged screaming to the lawn in front of city hall. There, the mob built a bonfire, immersed Washington in coal oil, lifted him up with a rope, and slowly lowered him into the fire.

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