2pm Sun. 10/27 Program on Lynching

Paul Burke

Public Invited to Presentation, “A Double Take on Lynching: Two Views,”

Sunday, October 27th, 2 p.m., at Fisherman’s Hall, 319 S. West St, Charles Town
For more information, contact: Donna Northouse, dnorthouse@..., 304-876-7012

The history and lingering effects of lynching in America during the Jim Crow period are the subject of “A Double Take on Lynching: Two Views,” a presentation sponsored by the Friends of Webb-Blessing House and the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society. The event takes place Sunday, October 27th, 2 p.m. at Fisherman’s Hall, 319 S. West St., in Charles Town. It is open to the public and free of charge.

Presenters are noted historian Susan Strasser and the award-winning poet Marcia E. Cole (see photos, left to right). Dr. Strasser is Richards Professor Emerita of American History at the University of Delaware and a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. Her talk presents 60 images that show how during the Jim Crow period, state-sanctioned repression was held in place by terror. More than 5,000 African Americans were lynched in the United States between 1877 and 1950—most of them men, most in the South. Marcia Cole writes fiction, poetry, and plays that show the devastating, personal toll racism has had into the twenty-first century.

This “double take” provides two different but complementary views of lynching—one, the historical, factual approach and the other expresses the personal impact that America’s history of lynching has left on countless individuals. Dr. Strasser’s illustrated talk, based on many years of primary research, is one of a series of four lectures entitled “A White Historian Reads Black History” that “seeks to serve people grappling with contemporary issues of race and racism.” Marcia Cole’s presentation of her poetry, “A Bitter Suite,” is a reflection of the horrific impact the lynching of her ancestors has had on her own life. The poems are included in her volume, Light in Dark Places: History in Verse, which will be available for purchase at the event. Both speakers present their ideas out of a deep respect for the thousands of victims of lynching and as a way for all Americans to memorialize their suffering.

In the words of a past audience member, “Even for me, a 62-year-old African American who grew up in the Jim Crow South, Susan Strasser’s talks are deeply informative and inspirational. I have a better understanding of the institutional and historical forces that resulted in African-American enslavement, lynching, housing segregation and voting rights. Because her presentations encourage audience participation, I have learned how Americans of different generations perceive African-American history and how they perceive the way forward to a more just society.” Sabrina McCarthy

Susan Strasser’s writings have been praised by the New Yorker for “retrieving what history discards: the taken-for-granted minutiae of everyday life.” Her books include Never Done: A History of American Housework; Satisfaction Guaranteed: The Making of the American Mass Market; and Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash.

Marcia Cole’s writings, besides Light in Dark Places: History in Verse, include Going for Freedom: True Accounts of Flight in Verse, a play about the Underground Railroad.