Anti-Black Violence in Twentieth-Century Texas ed. by Bruce A. Glasrud
Anti-Black Violence in Twentieth Century Texas, edited by Bruce A. Glasrud, is a brutal and striking exploration of the tragic racial violence that gripped the Lone Star State during the majority of the twentieth century. Twelve contributing authors and historians investigated specific lynchings, arrests, court cases, and murders that encouraged a purposeful African American response and inspired the spirit of the civil rights movement in Texas. This collection of essays vividly illustrates to its readers that the motivation of these horrors was the perceived threat of black violence against whites, specifically the sexual assault of white women. Because many of the events presented in these essays remain unknown by the general public, the depiction of the Waco Horror, the Beaumont Race [End Page 267] Riot, and the Loyal Garner arrest and murder creates a greater context in which to measure the ever-changing condition of race relations in Texas. This volume firmly asserts that African Americans in Texas experienced levels of racial violence and discrimination similar to those blacks who lived elsewhere in the South. A common theme that emerged was the general population’s pedestrian acceptance of mob rule and the cruel and inhumane activities of those mobs.
These articles depict specific accounts of racial violence in Longview, Paris, Waco, Houston, Sherman, and Jasper, but intentionally do not include numerous events in Dallas. According to Glasrud “in Dallas the incidents of anti-black violence occurred with such frequency that recounting them would form more than a substantial part of the current volume” (vii).
This book is a valuable addition to the study of race relations and Texas history. It would be a useful resource for teachers to help facilitate academic discussions about this difficult subject matter. Glasrud writes that “we must not forget our history, and we must not turn a blind eye to how that history persists and continues to echo in parts of our population” (191), and that is exactly what these articles have accomplished. This timely collection of essays reminds its reader of the life-threatening discrimination black Texans faced, as well as the strength of human character and will. These authors use memory and its ever-changing presentation of the truth to produce a vital contribution to historiography. The essayists maintain that barbarous racism remained constant from the early twentieth century to the Jasper lynching in 1998, thereby creating a consistent climate of social acceptance toward bloodthirsty discrimination. Investigating these events is crucial to understanding the patterns of mob behavior and its justification of racial violence toward black Texans.