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Your Children of Hell Have Broken Loose Again! – This Week in Historical Lynchings

This week in 1908 saw the lynching of an entire family in Hickman, Kentucky. Caught up in race prejudice and a land dispute, David Walker, his wife, and at least three of his children were gunned down as they escaped the fire set to their home by Night Riders. Using period newspapers, we’ll look at the details surrounding the lynchings, as well as how a local paper tried to blame the Walkers for their own massacre.

Between the Civil War and World War II, the black community, especially in the South, was terrorized by an epidemic of lynchings. As opposed to public executions, the point of lynching was to avoid the court of law, judge and jury. Often times, the victim, in a holding cell for an offense, was kidnapped by a mob before even being arraigned. According to a recent report issued by the Equal Justice Initiate, there were 4,075 lynchings of black Americans across the South between 1877 and 1950.