A Terrible Continuity: The Lynching of Ahmaud Arbery

Last week the Pulitzer Prize committee issued a posthumous her citation to renown journalist and antilynching activist, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, 89 years after her death. Over the course of her life, Wells-Barnett was unrelenting in her mission to tell the truth about lynching in America during a deadly era in which whites, sometimes in small groups, sometimes in large groups, committed often brutal and torturous extralegal murders of Black people, most frequently Black men. Over the course of a nearly a century, between the 1870s and the 1950s, more than 4,000 lynchings were recorded in the United States. In their defense, white men routinely claimed that these spectacles of public murder were necessary to keep Black men—dangerous, criminal, and rapacious—in line and, most importantly, to protect vulnerable white women.