Austin Erects State's First Monument to Victims of Lynching

The City of Austin has dedicated a plaque on the city's east side to two African Americans, two women and a man, who were lynched in the neighborhood in 1894.

News Radio 1200 WOAI reports it is the first memorial in Texas to honor victims of the state's disturbing history of lynching.

"I think that it says a lot about Austin as a city," Austin Mayor Steve Adler told News Radio 1200 WOAI.  "We are the first of the Texas cities to erect a plaque to remember the victims of lynching."

There is a lot to remember.  

335 people are known to have been lynched in Texas between 1877 and 1950, but the number could be as high as 1050, and the Alabama based Equal Justice Initiative is working to erect plaques in honor of every one of them, as well as a museum to honor lynching victims in Montgomery.

Texas ranks a disgraceful third in the number of lynchings, behind only Georgia and Mississippi.

"Its one of those things that, is often a forgotten part of our past that we need to remember, to insure that these kinds of moments never happen again," Adler said.

The three African Americans in east Austin were hung by a white mob that blamed them for the death of a child who was in their care.

Of the 335 lynching victims in Texas, most were hung, but some were burned to death, and many were also mutilated.  Most of the victims were African Americans, but Latinos were lynched too, mainly during the chaos that hit south Texas and the Rio Grande Valley during the Mexican revolution of 1910.

Many of the lynchings were carried out by what were called 'citizens posses,' upset over some imagined wrong that they blamed on the victim.  It wasn't unusual for entire families to be lynched, as was the case in Huntsville in 1910.

Sometimes the lynchings had economic roots, as with the burning of Black owned businesses in 1935, at the height of the Great Depression, by white laborers who felt they were in a 'battle for bread' with African Americans.


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