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Asheville in Buncombe County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Lynching in America / The Lynching of John Humphries

Community Remembrance Project

 
 
Lynching in America Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Dave W, August 27, 2022
1. Lynching in America Marker
Inscription.  
Lynching in America
Thousands of Black people were the victims of racial terror lynching in the United States between 1865 and 1950. After the Civil War, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution ended slavery and extended constitutional rights to Black people. White communities responded with violence and lynching as tools for re-establishing white supremacy. Racial terror lynching emerged as a stunning form of violent resistance to emancipation and equal rights for African Americans, intended to intimidate Black people and to maintain white economic, political, and social control. Black women, men, and children were lynched for resisting economic exploitation, violating perceived social customs, engaging in interracial relationships, or being accused of crimes even when there was not any evidence tying the accused to any offense. African Americans had to navigate their private and public lives with the constant threat of unpredictable, arbitrary, and lethal violence. As lynching became the most public and notorious form of subordination directed at Black people, law enforcement and elected officials
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tolerated—and even supported—the practice. Like John Humphries, many Black people were kidnapped from jails or given over to mobs by law enforcement officials. At least 120 racial terror lynchings have been documented in North Carolina during this era, including at least three Black people lynched in Buncombe County.

The Lynching of John Humphries
On July 15, 1888, a mob of 25 to 40 white men lynched John Humphries, a Black teenager. On July 14, the daughter of a white. suburban planter reported being assaulted in the woods. Race-based suspicion was immediately directed towards Black men and boys. Later that evening, without any evidence connecting him to the report, police arrested teenaged John Humphries. Police officers forced John to change into a striped shirt and remove his shoes so that he would fit the description of the alleged assailant before they took him to the white planter's home, where a false identification was obtained. John was then jailed. The following morning. a masked mob broke into the jail and law enforcement unlocked the cell doors, allowing the mob to forcibly remove John Humphries. The mob then lynched John by hanging him from a tree within a few hundred yards of the jail. White mobs regularly displayed complete disregard for the legal system and the constitutional rights of their Black victims. Law enforcement routinely
The Lynching of John Humphries Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Dave W, August 27, 2022
2. The Lynching of John Humphries Marker
failed to protect Black people in their custody. even though they had a legal obligation to do so. As in this case, officers sometimes directly assisted or even participated in lynchings. Although two people—including the sheriff—identified the name of a mob member, no one was ultimately held accountable for the racial terror lynching of John Humphries.
 
Erected 2021 by Equal Justice Iniative, Buncombe Community Remembrance Project.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil RightsLaw Enforcement. In addition, it is included in the Lynching in America series list. A significant historical date for this entry is July 15, 1888.
 
Location. 35° 35.746′ N, 82° 33.011′ W. Marker is in Asheville, North Carolina, in Buncombe County. Marker is at the intersection of College Street (Alternate U.S. 74) and South Spruce Street, on the right when traveling east on College Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Asheville NC 28801, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Ellington's Dream (within shouting distance of this marker); Civic Pride (within shouting distance of this marker); Shindig on the Green (within shouting distance of this marker); Past and Promise (within shouting distance of this marker);
Lynching in America / The Lynching of John Humphries Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Dave W, August 27, 2022
3. Lynching in America / The Lynching of John Humphries Marker
Young Men’s Institute (within shouting distance of this marker); Thomas Wolfe (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Early Milestones in Buncombe County (about 300 feet away); Monument Corner (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Asheville.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 2, 2022. It was originally submitted on August 31, 2022, by Dave W of Co, Colorado. This page has been viewed 669 times since then and 265 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 31, 2022, by Dave W of Co, Colorado. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 24, 2024