Professor Yevette Richards, associate professor in the Department of History and Art History, had the honor of giving the 2017 Women's History Month Lecture at St. John's University in Queens, New York on March 16, 2017.
Her lecture was entitled: "The 1928 Christmas Day Murders in Eros, Louisiana: Race, Gender and Class Dynamics of White Supremacy." The lecture concerned a 1928 lynching that took place in the family of Professor Richards. For years the limited details of the lynching had only survived through the family oral history. However, after Richards connected the episode of violence to lynching documentation that lists the victims only as unknown black females, she used additional sources including census and marriage records, obituaries, and contemporary newspaper accounts, to piece together the events that led six white men to confront five black girls and women on Christmas Day, killing two and wounding of two others. Although the NAACP seized on this lynching case as a cause célèbre, a way to expose the core barbarity of Southern lynching, Richards explores the dynamics that led the NAACP to remain publicly aloof from the case as it was being prosecuted. In the end the victory in prosecuting this case had limited application and demonstrated the gross racial and gender disparity at the foundation of the criminal justice system.
A version of this story originally appeared on the Women and Gender Studies department website.
March 24, 2017