Professor Gianluca De Fazio just published an article titled “Improving Lynching Inventories with Local Newspapers: Racial Terror in Virginia, 1877-1927“, in which he discusses some of the findings of the Racial Terror project. The article appears in the latest volume of the academic journal Current Research in Digital History and shows how the use of local newspapers improved the existing Virginia lynching inventories. Most importantly, it highlights how white lynching victims were previously over-counted and attempts to provide an explanation of why this was the case.
A new essay, ‘“Virginia’s Shame”: The 1891 Lynching of Three Black Miners in Clifton Forge, by JMU Professor Dolores Flamiano, is now available on the website. In this essay, professor Flamiano examines the role of lynching photographs in reinforcing lynching narratives in white newspapers, as well as in contrasting them in black newspapers.
By Dolores Flamiano
On Saturday, October 17, 1891, a group of young black miners traveled by train to Clifton Forge, a booming railroad town in western Virginia. Three of the men (Charles Miller, John Scott, and Robert Burton) visited S.S. Griffith photography studio and posed for Wild West-style portraits, displaying pistols and tough-guy stances. In high spirits and looking for a good time, they soon attracted the attention of a white man who tried to arrest them. (Newspaper accounts were vague about their alleged crime.) The miners resisted arrest and quickly left town, but a group of white men formed a posse and pursued them. The groups met in a firefight that killed two men (one white and one black) and injured two others. Four black men were taken to jail, but some white men (now an excited mob) kidnapped them. The mob decided to release a teenage boy, but proceeded to hang Miller, Scott, and Burton in a tree and shoot their bodies full of bullets.