Racial Violence and Representation: Performance Strategies in Lynching Dramas of the 1920s.
Plays representing the history of lynching in the United States Lynching in the United States has influenced and been influenced by the major social conflicts in the country, revolving around the American frontier, Reconstruction, and the civil rights movement. are only beginning to be understood as a distinctly American theatrical genre, a type of drama that began to appear at least as early as 1905 and continues to evolve on the contemporary stage. As the first anthology to address how the horrors of lynching have been represented in American theatre, Strange Fruit: Plays on Lynching by American Women, which Kathy A. Perkins and I edited in 1998, reveals the genre's historical continuity and speaks to its prior neglect in the areas of theatre history and dramatic criticism. Except for my studies and those by Perkins and Winona Fletcher, lynching drama, as a body of work, has remained unrecognized and unexamined.  For the purposes of this study, lynching means the racially motivated murder of black individuals (primarily black men) by white mobs with no repercussions repercussions npl → répercussions fpl
repercussions npl → Auswirkungen pl for the perpetrators. Victims of lynchings were hung, beaten, burned, or stabbed to death; they were commonly tortured and/or castrate castrate /cas·trate/ (kas´trat)
1. to deprive of the gonads, rendering the individual incapable of reproduction.
2. a castrated individual.
1. d before they were killed. This particular version of lynching developed during Reconstruction and became a systematic feature and official indicator of black-white race relations race relations
the relations between members of two or more races within a single community
race relations npl → relaciones fpl raciales
until the 1950s. 
As a form of racial violence, lynching was fostered by an ideology of white supremacy white supremacist
One who believes that white people are racially superior to others and should therefore dominate society.
white supremacy n. which developed and flourished in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. after the abolition of slavery.  In the context of institutionalized in·sti·tu·tion·al·ize
tr.v. in·sti·tu·tion·al·ized, in·sti·tu·tion·al·iz·ing, in·sti·tu·tion·al·iz·es
a. To make into, treat as, or give the character of an institution to.
b. white supremacy, black men and women, no longer valuable property as slaves, increasingly became the victims of lynchings, and lynching clearly became a manifestation of black-white race relations in the United States.
While racial theorists generally agree that no scientific proof exists as a basis for racial determination, contemporary critical thought has challenged the very concept of "race" as a useful category, arguing that "race," similar to categories such as gender, is a social construct.  According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Omi and Winant, for example, "race is indeed a pre-eminently sociohistorical concept. Racial categories and the meaning of race are given concrete expression by the specific social relations and historical context in which they are embedded" (60). Lynching dramas, then, provide insight into an understanding of "race" as a social construct in the United States since they reflect a distinctly American phenomenon shaped by the African American African American Multiculture A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. See Race. struggle for survival in a white-dominated culture, as well as the simultaneous existence of interracial in·ter·ra·cial
Relating to, involving, or representing different races: interracial fellowship; an interracial neighborhood. conflict and cooperation that has characterized black-white race relations throughout American history. For nearly a century, lynching was a highly visible and concrete exp ression of institutionalized white supremacy and a symbol of the existing power relations between the black and white "races" in the United States; its legacy lives on in the numerous incidents of racial violence and hate crimes that continue to occur in American society today. 
Although the brutal public ritual which these plays address for the most part no longer occurs, the history of lynching, as well as the cultural legacy of lynching drama, continues to shape our understanding of race in America. In a 1996 article, Jaquelin Goldsby refers to lynching as "the image that compresses the horrific brutality of America's racial history with regard to African Americans into a single act" (246), and Nellie McKay has described lynching as "one of the most heinous hei·nous
Grossly wicked or reprehensible; abominable: a heinous crime.
[Middle English, from Old French haineus, from haine, hatred, from atrocities that white America has ever perpetuated against black America. ... Perhaps no other outrage against blacks, except slavery, has ever elicited as uniform a consensus in its condemnation by black people from all walks of life ..." (141). As a growing body of work, lynching dramas function as a dynamic cultural text by both conserving the memory of this particular form of racial violence and continuing to evolve as an theatrical genre on the American stage. Thus, an examination of lynching drama provides a focus on a c ultural legacy based on a specific and uniquely American form of racial violence that continues to play a fundamental role in constructing an understanding of a national identity as well as black and white racial identities in the United States.
Previous scholarly studies focusing on the representation of lynching in texts and images have not included an examination of lynching drama. Trudier Harris's groundbreaking 1984 book Exorcising Blackness: Historical and Literary Lynching and Burning Rituals revealed the ritualistic rit·u·al·is·tic
1. Relating to ritual or ritualism.
2. Advocating or practicing ritual.
rit nature of lynching as well as its impact on writers of African American fiction. Her study provides a view of lynch acts as "rites of exorcism exorcism (ĕk`sôrsĭz'əm), ritual act of driving out evil demons or spirits from places, persons, or things in which they are thought to dwell. It occurs both in primitive societies and in the religions of sophisticated cultures. " designed by white Americans to eradicate "the black beast See Bête noire.
See also: Black " from their midst (or at least render him powerless and emasculated e·mas·cu·late
tr.v. e·mas·cu·lat·ed, e·mas·cu·lat·ing, e·mas·cu·lates
1. To castrate.
2. To deprive of strength or vigor; weaken.
Deprived of virility, strength, or vigor. ) and an understanding of black writers who graphically portray lynching scenes in their writing to be "active tradition bearers," perpetuating an oral tradition bent on Adj. 1. bent on - fixed in your purpose; "bent on going to the theater"; "dead set against intervening"; "out to win every event"
bent, dead set, out to "racial survival" (xiii, 187). Sandra Gunning's 1996 book Race, Rape, and Lynching: The Red Record of American Literature American literature, literature in English produced in what is now the United States of America. Colonial Literature
American writing began with the work of English adventurers and colonists in the New World chiefly for the benefit of readers in , 1890-1912, focuses on the literary reinforcement of or alternatives to the stereotypes that commonly surround white mob violence against African Americans (black male brute, hel pless white female victim, promiscuous black female, white male avenger). These constructed identities that facilitated lynching were repeated or refuted by both black and white writers, such as Charles Chesnutt and Mark Twain, who influenced public discourse on race and worked to reinvent ideas of "blackness" or "whiteness" at the turn of the century (141). Most recently, Kirk W. Fuoss's article "Lynching Performances, Theatres of Violence," in the January 1999 issue of Text and Performance Quarterly, re-articulates the history of lynching within the context of performance theory and explores the repetitive behaviors that constituted a lynching incident as a cyclical "web of performance" or "performance complex" (5). Harris, Gunning, and Fuoss all address the ritualistic nature of lynching and the symbolic function of the ritual, which was to reinforce the ideology and practice of white supremacy; the ritual was a highly visible means through which white mobs were able to torture and murder black Americans w ith no repercussions for their actions. As lynching became "an American race-ritual," the response of black and white playwrights resulted in the development of an American dramatic genre that requires a focus on "race" and the construction of racial identity in the United States. 
The first known reference to lynching in American drama occurred in 1858 in William Wells There are several famous individuals named William Wells:
Plays on lynching both reflect and inform the complex relationship of black and white cultures in the United States by simultaneously preserving and transcending a history of racial separation. The plays preserve, through their symbolic representations of lynching, a consciousness of racial conflict and violence instigated by institutionalized white racism, but they also transcend the boundaries of racial separation through the interracial nature of the playwrights, directors, casts, and audiences associated with their creation and performance. Despite plays such as Thomas Dixon's The Clansman (1905), a white supremacist's defense of lynching, most lynching dramas are written in the anti-lynching tradition and reflect a tradition of black and white Americans working together against racial injustice.
This essay, which is part of a larger project to provide a comprehensive history and analysis of the genre, identifies the specific artistic and political movements that converged in the 1920s to produce a distinctive and crucial decade in the development of lynching drama. The analysis of works by three playwrights reveals the decade's anti-lynching aesthetic as well as the innovative performance-based strategies, or performance-oriented techniques, that were employed to represent the racial violence of lynching on stage. During the 1920s lynching dramas appeared on Broadway (Paul Green's In Abraham's Bosom Abraham’s bosom
reward for the righteous. [N.T.: Luke 16:23]
See : Heaven ) as well as in community and educational theatre venues; they were printed in pioneering black publications such as Alain Locke and Montgomery Gregory's Plays of Negro Life (1927) and W.E.B. Du Bois's The Crisis, as well as in obscure "little magazines" of the Harlem Renaissance Harlem Renaissance, term used to describe a flowering of African-American literature and art in the 1920s, mainly in the Harlem district of New York City. During the mass migration of African Americans from the rural agricultural South to the urban industrial North , such as the Saturday Evening Quill quill: see pen. . These arenas of production and reception suggest the ubiquity Ubiquity
See also Omnipresence.
their signs seen as “verses of the wayside throughout America.” [Am. Commerce and Folklore: Misc. of the genre and vari ety of its audiences.
Lynching and Lynching Drama in the 1920s
Lynching dramas of the 1920s reflect the influences of the Harlem Renaissance and dramatic realism as well as a burgeoning "Folk Drama folk drama, noncommercial, generally rural theater and pageantry based on folk traditions and local history. This form of drama, common throughout the world, declined in popularity in the West (although not in Asia) with the advent of printing, general literacy, and " and a national "Little Theatre" movement. These artistic movements converged with the ongoing brutality of white mobs murdering African Americans and a national anti-lynching campaign to produce a new aesthetic for black and white American playwrights.
Although incidents of mob violence had dropped steadily since the peak year of 1892, lynching remained the most vivid symbol of black oppression throughout the twenties shaping the consciousness of Americans, both black and white (Hall 136). According to statistics gathered by the Tuskgegee Institute, of the 315 reported lynchings that occurred from 1920 through 1929, 34 victims were white, and 218 were black (Zangrando 6). Lynching can be seen as one of the strongest indicators of the black-white racial divide in the 1920s: For black Americans, lynching reinforced social boundaries that became, quite literally, a matter of life and death
"Matter of Life and Death" was the second episode of the first series of . , whereas the white reaction to lynching was typically either general acceptance or indifference, although a few whites did speak out against it (Zangrando 14).
The anti-lynching movement, which began within the nineteenth-century African American community, gained momentum in the 1920s with organizations such as the NAACP NAACP
in full National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Oldest and largest U.S. civil rights organization. It was founded in 1909 to secure political, educational, social, and economic equality for African Americans; W.E.B. Du Bois and Ida B. pressing for anti-lynching legislation in Congress and Mary Talbert's Anti-Lynching Crusaders working to raise one million dollars, as well as the nation's consciousness, in the fight against mob violence. Magazines and newspapers such as the New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Age, The Crisis, and the New York Amsterdam News regularly published editorials and reports calling attention to lynching as "the shame of America," and in the 1920s large Southern newspapers such as The Atlanta Constitution and Greensboro Daily News finally began to follow their lead.  As anti-lynching ideology merged with contemporary artistic movements, plays focusing on a lynching incident began to appear more frequently. In an appendix that lists all currently known lynching dramas, Perkins and I were able to identify ten plays that were written during the decade of the twenties (411-16).
While lynching dramas of the 1920s contributed to the development of lynching drama as a unique genre, they generally conformed to the style of writing for the stage known as dramatic realism and incorporated aspects of the decade's influential artistic movements known as the Little Theatre Movement, Harlem Renaissance, New Negro This article or section needs copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone and/or spelling.
You can assist by [ editing it] now. Movement, and Folk Drama Movement. Since these movements and their legacies are explored in studies of American theatre and literature, I will review them here only briefly, with a focus on their relation to the development of lynching drama.
In the 1920s the flowering of black art and literature known as the Harlem Renaissance coincided with the Little Theatre Movement--a nationwide movement to create community-centered, amateur (i.e., not-for-profit) theatres in which plays, mostly in one act, could be inexpensively produced. At the same time, American playwrights, newly fascinated with their own cultural resources, were attempting to forge a "native drama" by drawing on the folk life, customs, and speech patterns of a particular people, culture, or region. Theatre artists, critics, and educators saw a national theatre emerging from local playhouses and local playwrights. In his 1927 essay "A Chronology of the Negro Theatre," educator Montgomery Gregory wrote that "the drama of Negro Life is now recognized as an important factor in the development of a native American drama" (409), and then-contemporary critic Kenneth Macgowan predicted that, "out of a folk drama, will come a national drama" (218). Since the white-dominated American theatre did not welcome either black artists or audiences, leaders in the African American community took it upon themselves to create opportunities for black theatre artists. As the respective editors of the Urban League's Opportunity magazine and the NAACP's Crisis, Charles S. Johnson ''This article is about the sociologist and university president. For the American football player, please see Charles S. Johnson (football).
Charles Spurgeon Johnson and W. E. B. Du Bois Noun 1. W. E. B. Du Bois - United States civil rights leader and political activist who campaigned for equality for Black Americans (1868-1963)
Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois offered cash prizes and publication for the best black-authored one-act plays dealing with black experience  Du Bois Du Bois (d`bois, dəbois`), city (1990 pop. 8,286), Clearfield co., W central Pa., in the region of the Allegheny plateau; inc. 1881. also organized the Krigwa Players Little Negro Theatre to produce "a real Negro theatre" that would address itself to the black community. In the words of Du Bois, the theatre would be "About us, By us, For us, and Near us" (qtd. in Hatch and Hamalian 447). Among the other cultural leaders who created opportunities for black theatre artists were Alain Locke and Montgomery Gregory who, as professors at Howard University Howard University, at Washington, D.C.; coeducational; with federal support. It was founded in 1867 by Gen. Oliver O. Howard of the Freedmen's Bureau, to provide education for newly emancipated slaves. A normal and preparatory department was opened the same year. , championed a "national Negro theatre" (Gregory. "Drama" 159) and established the Howard Players and the Department of Theatre Arts as a professional training ground.
It is significant that a lynching drama--Judge Lynch, by J. W. Rogers, Jr.--claimed the first-place Belasco Cup award in the 1924 national Little Theatre Tournament and that, in the initial year (1925) of the Opportunity and Crisis playwriting play·writ·ing also play·wright·ing
The writing of plays. competitions, first- and third-place prizes were awarded to early lynching dramas written by G. D. Lipscomb (Frances) and Myrtle Smith Livingston (For Unborn Children). Many of the outstanding black writers associated with the Renaissance such as Langston Hughes Noun 1. Langston Hughes - United States writer (1902-1967)
James Langston Hughes, Hughes , Georgia Douglas Johnson Georgia Blanche Douglas Camp Johnson better known as Georgia Douglas Johnson (September 10, 1877 - 1966) was an American poet.
She was born in Atlanta to Laura Jackson and Douglas Camp. , Alice Dunbar Nelson, and Angelina Grimke Angelina Grimke may refer to:
Lynching dramas by black playwrights contributed to the Harlem Renaissance and to the emancipatory e·man·ci·pate
tr.v. e·man·ci·pat·ed, e·man·ci·pat·ing, e·man·ci·pates
1. To free from bondage, oppression, or restraint; liberate.
2. , anti-assimilationist discourse on behalf of African Americans in the 1920s; the plays were an important part of a racial pride movement in which artistic expression, self-definition, social protest, and self-defense were united as fundamental principles. At the same time, the plays were recognized as part of an American Folk Drama Movement in which every community, with its own native group of plays and producers, would provide "a richly varied authentic expression of American life."  However, Leslie Catherine Sanders has provided scholars with a note of caution here, by revealing the limited similarity in "folk drama" as written by black and white playwrights: While white folk dramatists were primarily concerned with depicting "naked, unaccommodated un·ac·com·mo·dat·ed
1. Not adapted or accommodated: new arrivals who were unaccommodated to the heat of the tropics.
2. man" in conflict with the forces of nature, black playwrights desired to treat "the entire range of social, moral, and political problems that face black peop le, both as a group and as individuals trying to make sense of their heritage" (20). The discourse surrounding the production and reception of these texts suggests the shifting racial boundaries of a burgeoning genre that was positioned simultaneously in a form of cultural black nationalism black nationalism
U.S. political and social movement aimed at developing economic power and community and ethnic pride among African Americans. It was proclaimed by Marcus Garvey in the early 20th century, when many U.S. as well as a native American folk drama. 
The Harlem Renaissance and New Negro Movement refer to an historical period in both American and PanAfrican cultural history that is famous for its legacy of creative work focusing on the lives and concerns of African Americans. The New Negro of the 1920s was seen as assertive in demanding his or her rights as a full American citizen while, at the same time, celebrating a new pride in a distinct cultural heritage. Many writers of the Harlem Renaissance were considered "New Negroes" because their work reflected a cultural nationalism or sense of racial pride in a distinct black culture that supported a view of black America as a nation within a nation.  Alain Locke's The New Negro: An Interpretation, considered by many to be the manifesto of the New Negro Movement, is seen by Houston Baker to project "a nation comprised of self-consciously aspiring individuals who view their efforts as co-extensive with global strivings for self-determination and national cultural expression" (Modernism 74).
Dramatic realism was a style of writing and production that endeavored to portray a serious social problem through particularized par·tic·u·lar·ize
v. par·tic·u·lar·ized, par·tic·u·lar·iz·ing, par·tic·u·lar·iz·es
1. To mention, describe, or treat individually; itemize or specify.
2. characters (true-to-life individuals instead of type characters) who speak and act in localized settings of daily routine, while folk drama valued authentic reproduction of common life and attempted the artistic representation of the speech, characters, manners, and incidents of a particular people, culture, or region.  According to theatre historian Randolph Edmonds, after 1910 the movements of realism and folk drama converged to give the American theatre "more significant" plays and playwrights (385).
While all lynching dramas of the 1920s were written in the style of dramatic realism and addressed lynching as an unresolved social problem of racial injustice, most were also "folk dramas," meaning that they were set in working-class homes of the rural South and employed an idiom that the playwrights judged to be appropriate for the characters and region. In lynching dramas of the 1920s "the folk" were primarily black, rural, working-class Southern families who spoke with a regional dialect and lived with the very real fear of lynching and the threat of lynch mobs invading their homes. Reflecting the racial divide that historical lynching aimed to enforce, most white characters were portrayed as lynch mob members or supporters.
A previous study covering the years 1905 to 1920 revealed the earliest playwrights of the anti-lynching tradition most commonly used the verbal description of a past lynching as a technique of representation. Grimke's Rachel (1916), Ridgely Torrence's Granny Maumee (1914 and 1917), Alice Dunbar Nelson's Mine Eyes Have Seen (1918), Mary Burrill's Aftermath (1919), and Tracy Mygatt's The Noose (1919) all contain the verbal recreation of a past lynching and the portrayal of its continuing impact on families and communities. 
Playwrights of the twenties moved away from relying solely on the narration of a past lynching and began to employ more performance-oriented techniques that emphasized the ongoing, current nature of the violence and called upon the non-verbal aspects of theatre, such as the actor's vocal range Human voices may be classified according to their vocal range — the highest and lowest pitches that they can produce. Vocal range defined
The broadest definition of vocal range, given above, is simply the span from the highest to the lowest note a particular voice , musical accompaniment, or visual humor. The following examination of three representative plays reveals how these performance-oriented techniques were appropriated by lynching dramatists and resulted in specific innovations such as: employing a single actor's voice to produce a chorus of voices that recreates an incident in which a black man is lynched for a crime that a white man has committed, using the presence and absence of bodies on stage to create the tense atmosphere surrounding the threat of a lynching incident while incorporating physical as well as verbal humor, and pitting sight against sound to convey a lynching incident as an experience of jarring contrasts. As in the previous decade, the genre's predomi nant setting in the 1920s continued to be a working-class family home in the rural American South, but the racial divide was continually emphasized by portraying the vulnerability and resistance of black families or the complicity of white families.
This essay focuses on the representations of lynching appearing in Judge Lynch (1924) by J(ohn) W(illiam) Rogers, Jr., a white Dallas newspaper reporter; Son-Boy (1928) by Joseph Mitchell
Joseph Mitchell (July 27, 1908 - May 24, 1996) was an American writer who wrote for The New Yorker. , an African American attorney who practiced in Boston but who had been born and raised in the South; and Sunday Morning Sunday Morning may refer to:
Judge Lynch was first produced by the Green Mask Players of Houston in 1923. A later production by The Dallas Little Theatre won first place in the 1924 national Little Theatre Tournament held in New York. Set in a white, rural Southern home, the action is played out against an incident in which a black man is lynched for a murder a white man has committed. The play creates a mystery for the audience to solve, while also revealing the racist attitudes of the white family, all of whose members never refer to the lynching victim as anything but "the nigger" or "Jack's nigger." Two white women, Mrs. Joplin and her daughter-in law Ella, are shown going about domestic chores as they discuss the murder of their white neighbor and wait for Ed, Ella's husband, who has joined the lynch mob in search of the murderer. All of the characters assume the murderer is the black man with whom the neighbor had argued the previous day. While they are waiting for Ed, the two women engage in conversation with a somewhat dishevele d white stranger who has happened to pass by and stop for a drink of water. As the play progresses, it becomes clear to the audience, but not the two women, that this white stranger is the murderer. Upon his return, Ed describes the lynching in gruesome detail as, unnoticed by the others, the white stranger listens intently and begins to squirm uncomfortably.
Ed's description includes the mob's harassment Ask a Lawyer
Country: United States of America
I recently moved to nev.from abut have been going back to ca. every 2 to 3 weeks for med. and threatening of the black man's wife, his capture, his begging for mercy, his forced confession A forced confession is a confession obtained by a suspect or a prisoner under means of torture of some kind, or duress.
Depending on the level of coercion used, a forced confession may or may not be valid. , and his eventual death by hanging and shooting. The description/narration becomes a performance of the cold-blooded viciousness of racism in the white community and is a representation of what Kirk Fuoss calls "narrativizing the lynching" or one of the "subsequent performances" that commonly occurs in the lynching cycle (18). The stage directions of the play instruct the actor playing Ed to carry out routine tasks, such as washing and drying his hands and taking off his shoes, as he delivers what the playwright refers to as "the recital of the lynching" from center stage. A major structural unit in the text and delivered from the central location of the performance space, "the recitation rec·i·ta·tion
a. The act of reciting memorized materials in a public performance.
b. The material so presented.
a. Oral delivery of prepared lessons by a pupil.
b. " becomes polyvocal in that it reproduces, through Ed's single voice, the variety of voices that found expression during the lynching incident. Ed's recitation of the lynching inci dent, written to capture his folk dialect, contains his own impressions ("I never before seen a nigger so near the color of ashes.... He'd beg and cry and call on God as a witness"); his recreation of the voices of individual mob members ("Walter Williams hauls off and knocks the nigger down, shoutin' 'Confess you black baboon baboon, any of the large, powerful, ground-living monkeys of the genus Papio, also called dog-faced monkeys. Five subspecies live in Africa, with one species extending into the Arabian peninsula. , or we'll burn you alive'"); the voices of groups within the mob ("Sim kept Walter from hitting him again, but half a dozen of them began to yell. 'Burn him--build a fire--'") and the voice of the victim ("Don't burn me, oh Lawdy, don't burn me. Oh boss, I don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. what it is, but if you say I done it, I done it, just don't burn me. I done it all") (Rogers 227-28).
Ed's recitation calls to mind Mikhail Bakhtin's concept of "polyphonic The ability to play back some number of musical notes simultaneously. For example, 16-voice polyphony means a total of 16 notes, or waveforms, can be played concurrently. " discourse in that it presents a multiplicity of voices (4), but it ultimately resists this definition because all voices are not given equal value. Within the context of the play, the voices of the lynch mob members serve, ironically, to critique lynching and to express the playwright's ideological (anti-lynching) position. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , the playwright has appropriated the views and voices of lynching advocates in order to interrogate (1) To search, sum or count records in a file. See query.
(2) To test the condition or status of a terminal or computer system. and condemn lynching. Bakhtin wrote in 1929 that "drama is by nature alien to genuine polyphony polyphony (pəlĭf`ənē), music whose texture is formed by the interweaving of several melodic lines. The lines are independent but sound together harmonically. " because "it allows for one, not several, systems of measurement" (28). Although many examples from the history of theatre (such as the contemporary performances of Anna Deavere Smith For other persons of the same name, see Anna Smith.
Anna Deavere Smith (born September 18, 1950, in Baltimore, Maryland) is an African American actress, playwright, and professor in the Department of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. ) challenge that view, Judge Lynch is an anti-lynching drama that includes the representation of contradictory (pro-lynching) voices but primarily to illuminate the views of the playwright, or what Bakhtin calls the "unified consci ousness" of the author (4).
The "recitation" in Judge Lynch is the first detailed verbal recreation of a lynching by a lynch mob member in American drama. An additional significance of this representation is that Ed is not portrayed as a one-dimensional "villain" or "type character." Throughout his recitation of the lynching, Ed is to be "deeply moved" by what he has just witnessed--"so deeply," the playwright notes, that "he tries to appear indifferent with only partial success" (Rogers 225). Ed's struggle to appear "unmoved un·moved
not affected by emotion; indifferent
Adj. 1. " by the barbaric violence in which he has participated provides a critique of white "manhood" and its unemotional, stoic ideal. My analysis suggests that, through performing the recitation while carrying out routine daily tasks, in the presence of the character the audience suspects to be the actual murderer, the character of Ed ironically delivers the condemnation of his own lynch-mob mentality as well as the condemnation of racial attitudes that support lynching--or the silence that permits it to continue. The s trength of the condemnation relies heavily on the aural aural /au·ral/ (aw´r'l)
1. auditory (1).
2. pertaining to an aura.
Relating to or perceived by the ear. effect of the recitation.
A contemporary review of the play judged it to be "a potent argument against lynching" and praised it for its "dramatic strength" and "unity of construction."  Judge Lynch was published by Samuel French Samuel French (1821 - 1898) was a U.S. entrepreneur who, together with British actor, playwright and theatrical manager Thomas Hailes Lacy, pioneered in the field of theatrical publishing and the licensing of plays. in a 1924 collection of one-act plays "for stage and study," introduced by playwright Augustus Thomas Augustus Thomas (1859–1934) was an American playwright, born in St. Louis, Missouri. The son of a doctor, he worked a number of jobs including a page in the 41st Congress, studying law and gaining some practical railway work experience before he turned to journalism and as "an American volume" addressed to "the reading public and amateur players" (7-8), and by Alain Locke and Montgomery Gregory in their pioneering 1927 anthology Plays of Negro Life. Locke's comments on the play reveal, in the language of the era, the fluid racial boundaries of the genre: "There are plays with Negro characters that are to all intents and purposes Adv. 1. to all intents and purposes - in every practical sense; "to all intents and purposes the case is closed"; "the rest are for all practical purposes useless"
for all intents and purposes, for all practical purposes not racially distinctive enough to be classified as Negro plays; and a play like Judge Lynch, included in this collection, with entirely white characters, may yet be so much of a play of the peculiar situations of race, as to be indisputably a drama of Negro theme and motive" (Locke, "Introduction" xv-xvi). While Locke saw the development of Negr o drama in America as a "freeman's estate, with a reciprocity and universality of spirit that truly great art requires," he urged black playwrights to draw on their "natural advantage of greater intimacy and knowledge of Negro life and to "tap the gifts of the folk temperament--its humor, sentiment, imagination, and tropic nonchalance" ("Introduction" xv). Joseph Mitchell's Son-Boy, representative of the decade's black folk drama and published the year after Plays of Negro Life, seems to answer Locke's call.
Son-Boy, by Joseph Mitchell, a black Boston attorney who was born and raised in the South, was published in the June 1928 issue of The Saturday Evening Quill. The magazine grew out of the regular literary discussion meetings of the Boston Saturday Evening Quill Club and was edited by Eugene Gordon, who was on the editorial staff at the Boston Globe. Financed by club members, The Quill was viewed as a conservative, East Coast, African American journal and one of the "little magazines" nourished by the Harlem Renaissance. During its short life (1928-1930), it won the approval of such writers of W.E.B Du Bois and Alice Dunbar Nelson and of publications such as The New York Age and Commonweal com·mon·weal
1. The public good or welfare.
2. Archaic A commonwealth or republic.
Noun 1. . 
Son-Boy reveals a distinctive quality of lynching dramas written by African American male playwrights of the 1920s in that, instead of portraying a helpless black victim, it focuses on the threat of a lynching and portrays the resistance and/or escape of an intended victim.  One of the earliest known lynching dramas written by a black male playwright, the play is also one of the most unusual examples of the genre because of Mitchell's use of irony and humor. As theatre scholar and historian James V James V, king of Scotland
James V, 1512–42, king of Scotland (1513–42), son and successor of James IV. His mother, Margaret Tudor, held the regency until her marriage in 1514 to Archibald Douglas, 6th earl of Angus, when she lost it to John . Hatch has observed, Son-Boy is one of the few lynching dramas with a "happy ending" (Hatch and Hamalian 74).
The play takes place in "about 1900" in the rural Southern home of Zeke and Dinah Johnson, in which Dinah, who takes in washing for a living, is ironing clothes. Zeke and Dinah's child, Son-Boy, is being pursued by a lynch mob for a crime he did not commit, and much of the plot revolves around deciding where he should hide and how he can secure a gun or razor to defend himself should he be found. In a scene of intense physical activity that calls for meticulous timing on the part of the actors, Dinah finally hides him under the pile of clothes she is ironing. When a family friend arrives and reveals that the real culprit, a white man who had blackened black·en
v. black·ened, black·en·ing, black·ens
1. To make black.
2. To sully or defame: a scandal that blackened the mayor's name.
3. his face and hands, has been caught, Dinah uncovers her son and speaks to him:
Come on out f'om yet hidin' place, Son-Boy. You'se safe. (Son-Boy stands up, Dinah embraces him.) I kno's yu didn't done it. (89)
Rising from the pile of clothes Son-Boy acknowledges that he did not commit the crime, but recalling, in folk dialect, the spirit of Claude MacKay's poetic tribute to self-defense "If We Must Die," he assures his family and friends that, "if they had ter' lynch me for nothin' I wus gwine gwine
v. Chiefly Southern & South Midland U.S.
A present participle of go1.
[African American Vernacular English, alteration of going.] ter make 'em lynch me fer somethin.'"  Dinah, who has taught her son always to stand up for himself responds, "Dat's right, Son-Boy, dat's right" (90). Along with the scenes of intense physical activity (characters rapidly entering and exiting the stage, and opening and closing closet doors in deciding where to hide) and Son Boy's hiding under, then emerging from, a pile of laundry, a constant verbal debate is carried on between Zeke and Dinah:
Zeke: (looking up at the clock) Ef Son-Boy's bein' lynched what is yuh gwine ter do 'bout it?
Dinah: (still dressing with her body half-way in the closet and closet door half way open) What yuh axin' me fer? YOU'S a man--dat is you's a piece o'one stuck up dere in dem britches! Is YOU too skerry sker·ry
n. pl. sker·ries
A small rocky reef or island.
[Scots, diminutive of Old Norse sker; see sker-1 in Indo-European roots. to he'p?
Zeke: (walking around room with pipe in his mouth upside down) I would he'p but I don't kno' where Son-Boy is.
Dinah: Y' don't want ter kno'.
Zeke: I thought you'd kno'.
Dinah: Thought nothin'! How y'spect fer me ter kno'?
Zeke: I thought yuh'd go out an' look fer 'im. (83)
Zeke is afraid of white folks, but Dinah is proud that she came from "a fightin' tribe" who "ain't skeered o' nobody no time. ... Dat's de stock I come f'om an' dat's de stock I'se handing down ter Son-Boy" (84). A significant musical addition to the action is that Dinah opens and closes the play singing, "Before I'd be a slave / I'd be buried in my grave. / And go home to my father and be saved" (77, 91-92).
Joseph Mitchell was perhaps the first known playwright but not the first black American to weave elements of humor into a critique of lynching. Mel Watkins Mel Watkins (born 1932) is a Canadian political economist and activist. He is professor emeritus of economics and political science at the University of Toronto. He was a founder and co-leader with James Laxer of the Waffle, a left wing political formation within the New Democratic , in his recent book On the Real Side, has documented jokes and humorous tales on lynching as part of the "underground tradition" of African American humor. According to Watkins, the existence of such jokes and stories "underscores the irony in much black comedy" as well as "a comic sense of some white southerners' barbarity" (32). Son-Boy introduces elements of humor into a genre in which humor is rare and unexpected. The technique is successful because Mitchell's ability to relieve a life-threatening situation with everyday domestic humor (the marital bickering bick·er
intr.v. bick·ered, bick·er·ing, bick·ers
1. To engage in a petty, bad-tempered quarrel; squabble. See Synonyms at argue.
2. between Dinah and Zeke) produces an ironic look at white "Southern hospitality" from a black perspective.
Mitchell drew upon what he knew to be traditional survival skills for the black family: a sense of humor Noun 1. sense of humor - the trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous; "she didn't appreciate my humor"; "you can't survive in the army without a sense of humor"
sense of humour, humor, humour , quick thinking, self-reliance, and unrelenting resistance to oppression. In constructing a play that clearly portrayed these skills passing from one generation to the next, he utilized what Locke calls Michell's "intimate knowledge of Negro life" as well as the common devices of the Folk Drama and Little Theatre Movements. Attesting to its significance as an early contribution to "a theatre that could speak to and for African Americans," Son-Boy was recently republished in Lost Plays of the Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1940, edited by James V. Hatch and Leo Leo, in astronomy
Leo [Lat.,=the lion], northern constellation lying S of Ursa Major and on the ecliptic (apparent path of the sun through the heavens) between Cancer and Virgo; it is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Hamalian (18). Hatch and Hamalian remind their readers of the "serious nature" of the conflict at the play's center, noting that the family, although spared this time by mistaken identity mistaken identity n → erreur f d'identité
mistaken identity mistake n → Verwechslung f
mistaken identity n , remains vulnerable to the "violently whimsical impulses of their tormentors" (74). My examination of the play has attempted to reveal its historical importance and uniq ue status as a lynching drama. Because of Joseph Mitchell's uncommon approach, which skillfully skill·ful
1. Possessing or exercising skill; expert. See Synonyms at proficient.
2. Characterized by, exhibiting, or requiring skill. combines the threat of a lynching with the black tradition of irony and humor, Son-Boy remains as one of the most unusual and remarkable creations of the genre.
When the American theatre is examined through the genre of lynching drama, Georgia Douglas Johnson emerges as a central figure. Although recognized primarily as a poet, she was the most prolific of all anti-lynching playwrights. According to the synopsis of plays recorded in her "Catalogue of Writings," six titles represent the category Johnson referred to as her "lynching plays." Until recently, only four of these texts were thought to be extant, but with the recent discovery of Johnson's two "lost" lynching plays, one of which exists in two different versions, a complete study of her contribution to the genre is possible. 
No known documentation exists of Johnson's lynching dramas being either published or produced in her lifetime. The irony of her status as the most prolific playwright of lynching dramas, but also the least published or produced, speaks to both the neglect of the genre and to the precarious position Douglas held as a black woman writer during the early decades of the twentieth century. In their respective studies of women writers of the Harlem Renaissance and New Negro Movement, scholars Gloria T. Hull and Cheryl A. Wall found that African American women were penalized pe·nal·ize
tr.v. pe·nal·ized, pe·nal·iz·ing, pe·nal·iz·es
1. To subject to a penalty, especially for infringement of a law or official regulation. See Synonyms at punish.
2. in subtle and blatant ways for their gender and that their writing reveals a very different, less optimistic sense of the Renaissance than does the work of their male counterparts. Whereas previous scholarship had categorized Johnson as "the lady poet of the New Negro Renaissance" and a "traditionalist and advocate of genteel culture" (Tate xviii, lxvi), more recent works by Hull, Wall, Fletcher, and Tate have brought to light the complexity of her unique vision and her struggles as a black woman artist in the 1920s and '30s.
Johnson's plays clearly reflect the influences of the decade's folk drama, but they are also representative of two contemporary, opposing schools of thought on African American theatre, led by W.E.B. Du Bois and Alain Locke. According to theatre historian and critic Samuel A. Hay, Du Bois's Protest/Propaganda School of Theatre favored plays that "depicted the struggle of African Americans against racism," whereas Locke's Art Theatre School championed "a new generation" of playwrights who did not see themselves through "the distorted perspective of a social problem" but who, instead, "would search first for Truth and Beauty" and depict characters who expressed honest emotions "irrespective of irrespective of
Without consideration of; regardless of.
preposition despite politics" (Hay 3-5). Johnson's lynching dramas can be seen as folk dramas as well as a skillful skill·ful
1. Possessing or exercising skill; expert. See Synonyms at proficient.
2. Characterized by, exhibiting, or requiring skill. combination of the ideals of both schools. 
An examination of Sunday Morning in the South, Johnson's most accessible (i.e., most frequently published) lynching drama from the 1920s, suggests that she deserves a place among the advance guard of artists who courageously sought to bring what were then considered "taboo" subjects surrounding lynching to the American stage. In addition to addressing such topics as the black male brute/white female victim stereotype, Johnson created innovative techniques that relied heavily on the materiality MATERIALITY. That which is important; that which is not merely of form but of substance.
2. When a bill for discovery has been filed, for example, the defendant must answer every material fact which is charged in the bill, and the test in these cases seems to or semiotics semiotics or semiology, discipline deriving from the American logician C. S. Peirce and the French linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. It has come to mean generally the study of any cultural product (e.g., a text) as a formal system of signs. of theatre to convey the horrors of lynching. Her innovative strategy for conveying the horrors of lynching on stage called for a performance that would envelop en·vel·op
tr.v. en·vel·oped, en·vel·op·ing, en·vel·ops
1. To enclose or encase completely with or as if with a covering: "Accompanying the darkness, a stillness envelops the city" her audience in an experience of jarring contrasts by pitting sight against sound or, in other words, by constructing a dialectic of the senses in which what the audience sees is challenged by what they hear.
Sunday Morning in the South is innovative in its subject matter in that it was the first lynching drama to portray on stage the apprehension of an innocent black man (Tom Griggs) for allegedly attacking a white woman, as well as the white woman's complicity with the unjust racial order. Johnson employs the conventions of folk drama and portrays the extreme vulnerability of the black home in the 1920s by setting her play in a humble, two-room house in the South where Tom lives with (and supports) Sue Jones, his seventy-year-old grandmother, and Bossie Griggs, his seven-year-old brother. As two white police officers enter the home during the family's Sunday morning breakfast and arrest Tom for a crime he did not commit, a white woman, who accompanies the officers and whom Tom is accused of attacking, stands by with acceptance and passivity. This scene is the first dramatic portrayal of how the actions of white police officers and white women support the more explicitly brutal actions of the lynch mob. The scen e challenges the racial and gender stereotypes that supported lynching:
Sue: Say Mr. Officer, whut you tryin to do to my granson? Shore as God Amighty is up in them heabens he was right here in bed. I seed him and his little brother Bossie there saw him, didn't you Bossie?
Bossie: (in a frightened whisper) Yessum, I seed him and I heered him!
First Officer: (to Bossie) Shut up. Your word's nothing. (looking at Sue) Nor yours either. Both of you'd lie for him. (steps to back door and makes a sign to someone outside, then comes back into the room taking a piece of paper from his vest pocket and reads slowly, looking at Tom critically as he checks each item) Age around twenty, five feet five or six, brown skin ... (he folds up the paper and puts it back into his vest) Yep! Fits like a glove. (Sue, Liza and Tom look from one to the other with growing amazement and terror as the Second Officer pushes open the door and stands there supporting a young White Girl on his arm)
Second Officer: (to girl) Is this the man?
White Girl: (hesitatingly) I--I'm not sure ... but ... but he looks something like him ... (holding back)
First Officer: (encouragingly) Take a good look, Miss. He fits our description perfect. Color, size, age, everything. Pine Street Market ain't no where from here, and he surely did pass that way last night. He was there all right!
We got it figgered all out. (to Girl, who looks down at her feet) You say he looks like him?
White Girl: (looking at him again quickly) Y-e-s (slowly and undecidedly) I think so. I ... I ... (then she covers her face with her arm and turns quickly and moves away from the door, supported by the Second Officer, First Officer makes a move toward Tom and slips handcuffs hand·cuff
A restraining device consisting of a pair of strong, connected hoops that can be tightened and locked about the wrists and used on one or both arms of a prisoner in custody; a manacle. Often used in the plural.
tr.v. on him before anyone is aware what is happening) (106)
Tom is handcuffed by the police officers, despite his grandmother's attempts to intervene, and out of concern for her safety and that of his young brother, Tom determines that it is best for him to go along with the officers without protest:
Tom: (utterly bewildered) Granma, don't take on so. I'll go along with him to the sheriff. I'll splain to him how I couldn't a done it when I was here sleep all the time--I never laid eyes on that white lady before in all my life. (107)
All of the action takes place within the home, but Johnson provides a strong counterpoint to the interior action by calling for a sequence of songs to be heard coming from the church next door. This structure provides for the quiet family breakfast, the sudden apprehension of Tom, and the subsequent news of his lynching, to be accompanied by Christian music Christian music is music that is written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding the Christian life, as well as (in terms of contemporary music) to give a Christian alternative to main stream secular music. . From the beginning song, "Amazing Grace "Amazing Grace" is a well-known Christian hymn. The words were written late in 1772 by Englishman John Newton. They first appeared in print in Newton's Olney Hymns, 1779 that he worked on with William Cowper. ," to a chorus of "Let the Light from the Lighthouse Shine on Me," through two stanzas of" Alas and Did My Savior Bleed," to the final sounds of "Lord Have Mercy Over Me," Johnson arranges for the performance of sounds to shape, contradict, and illuminate the visual action on stage, and she confronts her audience with a sensory-based dialectic that demands an interpretive resolution.
Audience members or readers could interpret the competing forces of spiritual songs and racial violence as endorsing, questioning, or repudiating the value of retaining a strong religious faith in the face of the decade's lynching epidemic. The sound of the songs as an accompaniment to the intrusion of the home, and subsequent reporting of Tom's lynching, might soothe some audience members, while disturbing or even angering others. Placed in this context, the scene asks whether religion or spiritual faith is an opiate opiate /opi·ate/ (o´pe-it)
1. any drug derived from opium.
2. hypnotic (2).
1. of an oppressed op·press
tr.v. op·pressed, op·press·ing, op·press·es
1. To keep down by severe and unjust use of force or authority: a people who were oppressed by tyranny.
2. people or a source of undying strength and survival in the face of oppression. The unresolved tension between these competing questions allows for a multiplicity of meanings and emphasizes the collaborative nature of artistic production that depends on audience/reader interpretation.
Among the "modernist impulses" found in Johnson's work, Claudia Tate Claudia Tate (1947-2002) was a noted literary critic and professor of English and African American Studies at Princeton University. She is credited with moving African American literary criticism into the realm of the psychological.
Tate was born in Long Branch, New Jersey. has noted that "religious faith is tinged in her verse with skepticism" and that "dramatic irony" distinguishes her plays (lxi). The haunting representation of a lynching incident in Sunday Morning in the South repeats this modernist condition of "conflicted awareness" (Tate lxii) and reveals as well Johnson's skill in creating a drama of concentrated emotional power. Furthermore, Johnson's daring subject matter and innovative artistic approach attest to her status as an innovative playwright and reinforces Winona Fletcher's perspective of Johnson as a "revolutionary playwright" (41). Her bold attack on lynching in Sunday Morning in the South provides a contrast to the traditional image of Johnson as the proper "lady poet" of the Harlem Renaissance.
The lack of production or publication of Johnson's plays during her lifetime (in spite of their submission to the Federal Theatre Project) attests to her status as an ignored or unappreciated playwright of the lynching drama genre.  Johnson's position as the most prolific (but unproduced) playwright of lynching drama testifies to her vision of theatre as "art for life's sake" and her timely struggle to bring such a theatre to the American stage. 
This essay has revealed the influences of the Harlem Renaissance, Little Theatre, and Folk Drama Movements on the development of lynching drama during the 1920s. These artistic movements encouraged new playwrights and provided new artistic arenas and audiences for the publication and production of lynching dramas. The representations of lynching in the three plays discussed here indicate the variety of artistic approaches within the genre and reveal the unique merging of artistic creativity and social consciousness that occurred in the 1920s. It is indeed ironic that parallel artistic movements--one seeking to express a distinct black culture and two others seeking to express a national identity--would find common ground in the racial violence of lynching.
As plays representing the development of the genre in the 1920s, Judge Lynch, Son-Boy, and Sunday Morning in the South demonstrate an increased reliance on performance techniques by playwrights who were employing the materiality of the stage in increasingly complex and sophisticated ways. While representations of lynching in the previous decade relied primarily on the verbal description of a past lynching, these dramas are set in a time frame in which the threat or actual occurrence of a lynching takes place. These representations from the 1920s reveal an increased reliance on nonverbal non·ver·bal
1. Being other than verbal; not involving words: nonverbal communication.
2. Involving little use of language: a nonverbal intelligence test. aspects of theatre such as the actor's vocal range, the presence and absence of bodies on stage, the incorporation of visual along with verbal humor, and musical accompaniment chosen to challenge the stage action.
My analysis of these three plays suggests that lynching dramas are a valuable site for exploring the configurations of a distinctly American genre as well as the impact of race and gender on the development of theatre in the United States. Lynching dramas of any era can provide insight into an historical and cultural understanding of black and white identities in the United States. John F. Callahan John F. Callahan is literary executor for Ralph Ellison, and was the editor for his posthumously-released novel Juneteenth. In addition to his work with Ellison, Callahan has written or edited numerous volumes related to African-American literature, with a particular has suggested their relevance to contemporary discourse on race and national identity through his observation that "enactments of lynching are not mere obscene vestiges of the past but conscientious reminders of racial terrors dormant but not extinguished from the American heart" (467). As a distinctly American genre, lynching dramas provide a unique intersection of aesthetics, race, gender, and politics; they provide a new site for examining the relations among theatre, national identity, and racial identity in the United States.
Judith L. Stephens is Associate Professor in the Department of Speech Communication, College of the Liberal Arts liberal arts, term originally used to designate the arts or studies suited to freemen. It was applied in the Middle Ages to seven branches of learning, the trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, and the quadrivium of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. , at Penn State University. She is coeditor, with Kathy Perkins, of Strange Fruit: Plays on Lynching by American Women (Indiana UP, 1998) and has published numerous articles on issues of race and gender in American drama and on lynching drama as a unique genre. Dr. Stephens teaches courses in speech communication, theatre, and women's studies women's studies
pl.n. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)
An academic curriculum focusing on the roles and contributions of women in fields such as literature, history, and the social sciences. at both the Penn State Schuylkill Penn State Schuylkill is a Commonwealth Campus of the Pennsylvania State University. It is located in Schuylkill Haven, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. The Schuylkill Campus was originally chartered in 1934 and was located in Pottsville, approximately 6 miles (10 km) north of the and Harrrisburg campuses.
(1.) See the entries in the List of Works Cited for Stephens; Fletcher; and Perkins, "Impact."
(2.) The history of this particular form of lynching is well-documented. For general studies, see Raper; Tolnay and Beck; Ginzburg; Wells-Barnett; White; Cutler; and Zangrando. For 1920s magazine and newspaper commentary, see Du Bois, "We Are a Nation of Murderers."
(3.) According to Mary Church Terrell Mary Church Terrell (born September 23, 1863 in Memphis, Tennessee - July 24, 1954 in Annapolis, Maryland) was a writer and civil rights and women's rights activist. Her parents, Robert Reed Church and Louisa Ayers, were both former slaves. , founder and first president of the National Association of Colored Women The National Association of Colored Women (NACW) was established in Washington, D.C., USA, as the product of the merger in 1896 of the National Federation of Afro-American Women and the National League of Colored Women, organizations that had arisen out of the African , lynching was "the aftermath of slavery" (see Terrell 853). For additional information on Terrell, see Beverly Jones.
(4.) For an historical review and analysis of racial theory in the United States, see Gossett. For an example of scholarship providing a view of "race" as an arbitrary linguistic category and questioning its usefulness as a category of thought, see Gates, "Writing 'Race'"; for a response to Gates, see Baker, "Caliban's Triple Play."
(5.) After 1860, lynching clearly became a racial phenomenon, and it was not until 1953 that the Tuskegee Institute could announce that lynching was no longer a "valid index" of black-white race relations in the United States. See Cuter 135-36; Zangrando 3; and Brundage 257. Victims of recent hate crimes are James Byrd, Jr., Ricky Byrdsong Ricky Byrdsong (June 24, 1956 – July 2, 1999) was an American former men's basketball coach for Northwestern University. Byrdsong coached the Wildcats from 1993 to 1997, leading them to a National Invitation Tournament berth in 1994. , and Won Joon Yoon. James Byrd, Jr., of Jasper, Texas Jasper is a city in Jasper County, Texas, on U.S. highways 96 and 190, State Highway 63, and Sandy Creek in north central Jasper County. The population was 8,247 at the 2000 census(2006 estimate-7,465). was dragged to his death on June 6, 1998 while chained behind a pickup truck driven by three white men. Ricky Byrdsong and Won Joon Yoon were targeted and shot to death in July 1999 by white supremacist white supremacist
One who believes that white people are racially superior to others and should therefore dominate society.
white supremacy n.
Noun 1. Benjamin Smith because they were members of minority groups.
(6.) John F. Callahan uses the phrase American race ritual to refer to lynching (465).
(7.) Recent productions of contemporary lynching dramas include a staged reading of Sandra Seaton's The Bridge Party, featuring Ruby Dee Ruby Dee (born October 27, 1924) is an American actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, and activist. Early life
She was born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in Harlem, New York. and directed by Glenda Dickerson Glenda Dickerson (born 1945, Houston, TX) is a director, folklorist, adaptor, writer, choreographer, actor, black theatre organizer, and educator. She has worked in important venues, including the Biltmore Theatre at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor on April 30,1998, and a staged reading by the Howard Players of Michon Boston's Iola's Letter directed by Vera Katz Vera Katz (born August 3 1933) was the 45th mayor of Portland, Oregon. She served from January 1993 until January 2005. She was elected in 1992 and was re-elected in 1996 and 2000. In 2004 she did not stand for re-election. at Howard University in February 1999. The Bridge Party will receive a full production at Michigan State University Michigan State University, at East Lansing; land-grant and state supported; coeducational; chartered 1855. It opened in 1857 as Michigan Agricultural College, the first state agricultural college. in January 2000. Both dramas are included in the Perkins and Stephens anthology Strange Fruit.
(8.) Genre's etymological et·y·mo·log·i·cal also et·y·mo·log·ic
Of or relating to etymology or based on the principles of etymology.
et roots in the Latin word genus ('kind') generally refer to literary types or classifications (epic, dramatic, lyric, etc.), but as Heather Dubrow points out in her succinct study Genre, a range of criteria (such as meter, structure, subject matter, and effect on the audience) exists for defining and describing genre. According to Dubrow, "The major reason it proves so difficult to arrive at a simple and satisfactory definition for individual genres or of genre itself, then, is that the concept encompasses so many different literary qualities" (7). Clearly, for Perkins and me, the defining feature for lynching drama (the representation of the threat or occurrence of a lynching) is based on subject matter, or is thematic, not formalistic for·mal·ism
1. Rigorous or excessive adherence to recognized forms, as in religion or art.
2. An instance of rigorous or excessive adherence to recognized forms.
3. , in nature. The idea of genre as an organizing concept for understanding art and literature has appeared in Western critical discourse since Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Poetics po·et·ics
n. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)
1. Literary criticism that deals with the nature, forms, and laws of poetry.
2. A treatise on or study of poetry or aesthetics.
3. . According to Russian formalist for·mal·ism
1. Rigorous or excessive adherence to recognized forms, as in religion or art.
2. An instance of rigorous or excessive adherence to recognized forms.
3. Mikhail Bakhtin Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin (Russian: Михаил Михайлович Бахти́н pronounced: , genre is "always old and new simultaneously" in that it preserves elements of the past through "constant renewal" and "contemporization" (87). Although some poststructuralist criticism has challenged the validity of genres, contemporary critical theorists See also Critical theory (Frankfurt School)
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
(9.) See, for example, "Nation Roused to Lynching Danger" 7.
(10.) For a thorough review of these contests and award-winning dramas, see Austin.
(11.) Frederick H. Koch, founder of the Carolina Playmakers Playmakers is a TV series on ESPN that depicted the lives of the players on a fictional professional football team. The show starred Omar Gooding, Marcello Thedford, Christopher Wiehl, Jason Matthew Smith, Russell Hornsby and Tony Denison. at the University of North Carolina North Carolina, state in the SE United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), South Carolina and Georgia (S), Tennessee (W), and Virginia (N). Facts and Figures
Area, 52,586 sq mi (136,198 sq km). Pop. , Chapel Hill, was a pioneer in the national Folk Drama Movement. See his "A Folk Theatre in the Making."
(12.) By "native American" I mean a drama that is indigenous to--has its origins in--the United States.
(13.) Most scholarship has focused on the New Negro Movement as a movement coinciding with the artistic productivity of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and '30s, but in To Wake the Nations, Eric Sundquist reveals the 1890s and early 1900s as "the first phase" of the New Negro Movement (335). According to Sundquist, distinct signs of racial consciousness, along with writing "infused with a sense of nationalistic purpose," flourished during this earlier era (335). For a study of the New Negro philosophy that saw art and literature as pragmatic ways to effect racial progress and improved race relations, see Lewis. For an analysis that compares the cultural nationalism of the Harlem Renaissance "New Negroes" with the political nationalism of Marcus Garvey Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., National Hero of Jamaica (August 17, 1887 – June 10, 1940), was a publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, Black nationalist, orator, black separatist, and founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL). , see Cruse. For a 1920s essay setting forth the struggles of a New Negro artist, see Hughes, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain." For a recent study of African American women playwrights of the era, see Stephens, "The Harlem Renaissance and The New N egro Movement."
(14.) Lynching dramas reflect the development of realism in American theatre by presenting lynching as a serious social problem that is left unresolved by the end of the play. Brenda Murphy discusses lack of closure as a characteristic of realistic plays in American Realism This article is written like a personal reflection or and may require .
Please [ improve this article] by rewriting this article in an . and American Drama, 1880-1940. For a discussion of realism as an "effective tool of resistance" as well as a "mechanism of feminist social intervention," see Schroeder 119, 158.
(15.) For a detailed discussion of these early plays, see my forthcoming essay "Revisiting Representations of an American Race Ritual: Early Lynching Dramas, 1905-1920."
(16.) "Little Theatre" n.p.
(17.) See Johnson and Johnson 92-94.
(18.) The other lynching drama from the decade written by an African American male is Frances, by college professor G. D. Lipscomb. In Frances, which received first prize in the 1925 Opportunity contest, George Mannus, a black teacher of tenant farmers in Mississippi, arms himself with a gun and avoids being lynched by, apparently, escaping on a northbound train.
(19.) Claude McKay's poem "If We Must Die," published in The Liberator in 1919, has been called a "symbolic manifesto" for the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance (see Ali 205).
(20.) Johnson's plot summaries suggest that six plays deal with lynching. Blue-Eyed Black Boy, Safe, and one of the two versions of Sunday Morning in the South have all now been published, and I was recently able to recover "A Bill to Be Passed" and "And Still They Paused," both of which deal with the then-current anti-lynching bill before Congress. Both versions of Sunday Morning in the South are in the Federal Theatre Project collection at the Library of Congress.
(21.) Johnson knew both Locke and Du Bois, both of whom attended the gatherings of artists and public figures at her home on S Street in Washington, D.C. Du Bois wrote the introduction to Johnson's Bronze: A Book of Verse (1922) and Locke wrote the foreword to her later volume An Autumn Life Cycle (1928). Samuel Hay notes that, although they held different views on what functions theatre should serve, Locke and Du Bois "drew up the ground plans for African American drama" (5).
(22.) Winona Fletcher reports that of the three plays on lynching that Johnson submitted to the Federal Theatre Project, Sunday Morning in the South was the only one that met with the approval of FTP FTP
in full file transfer protocol
Internet protocol that allows a computer to send files to or receive files from another computer. Like many Internet resources, FTP works by means of a client-server architecture; the user runs client software to connect to readers. However, as Fletcher adds, "Their acceptance and recommendations did not lead to a production of the script..." (57).
(23.) dele de·le
A sign indicating that something is to be removed from printed or written matter.
tr.v. de·led, de·le·ing, de·les
1. To remove, especially from printed or written matter; delete.
2. jegede's essay on Yoruban arts contrasts an African view of "art for life's sake" with the Western concept of "art for art's sake "Art for art's sake" is the usual English rendition of a French slogan, l'art pour l'art, which is credited to Théophile Gautier (1811–1872). Some argue Gautier was not the first to write those words. ." The phrase art for art's sake suggests a view that values a work of art solely for its own intrinsic beauty; there is no expectation for the work to serve any "useful" function. According to jegede, in traditional societies in Africa, art is "integral to life" and committed to "human survival" (239, 241).
Ali, Schavi Mali. "Claude McKay Claude McKay (September 15, 1889 – May 22, 1948) was a Jamaican writer and communist. He was part of the Harlem Renaissance and wrote three novels: Home to Harlem (1928), a best-seller which won the Harmon Gold Award for Literature, Banjo ." African American Writers from the Harlem Renaissance to 1940. Ed. Trudier Harris and Thadious Davis. Detroit: Gale, 1987. 201-12.
Austin, Addell. "Pioneering Black Authored Dramas: 1924-27." Diss. Michigan State U, 1986.
Baker, Houston A., Jr. "Caliban's Triple Play." Critical Inquiry 13 (Autumn 1986): 183-95.
--. Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987.
Bakhtin, Mikhail Bakhtin, Mikhail (Mikhailovich)
(born Nov. 17, 1895, Orel, Russia—died March 7, 1975, Moscow, U.S.S.R.) Russian literary theorist and philosopher of language. His works frequently offended the Soviet authorities, and in 1929 he was exiled from Vitsyebsk to Kazakhstan. . Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics. Trans. R. W. Rotsel. Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, city (1990 pop. 109,592), seat of Washtenaw co., S Mich., on the Huron River; inc. 1851. It is a research and educational center, with a large number of government and industrial research and development firms, many in high-technology fields such as : Ardis, 1973.
Beebee, Thomas 0. The Ideology of Genre: A Comparative Study of Generic Instability. University Park: Penn State UP, 1994.
Brundage, W. Fitzhugh. Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880-1930. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1993.
Callahan, John F. "Lynching." The Oxford Companion to African American Literature African American literature is the body of literature produced in the United States by writers of African descent. The genre traces its origins to the works of such late 18th century writers as Phillis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano, reached early high points with slave narratives . Ed. William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris. New York: Oxford UP, 1997. 465-67.
Cruse, Harold. The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual. New York: Morrow, 1967.
Cutler, James E. Lynch Law lynch law
The punishment of persons suspected of crime without due process of law.
[After William Lynch (1742-1820). : An Investigation into the History of Lynching in the United States. Montclair: Patterson Smith, 1969.
Douglas, Ann. Terrible Honesty: Mongrel mongrel
of mixed or uncertain breeding; said of dogs in particular but also used adjectivally to refer to any species. Manhattan in the 1920s. New York: Farrar, 1995.
Du Bois, W. E. B. "Krigwa Players Little Negro Theatre: The Story of a Little Theatre Movement." 1926. Hatch and Hamalian 446-52.
--. "We Are A Nation of Murderers." W. E. B. Du Bois: The Crisis Writings. Ed. Daniel Walden. Greenwich: Fawcet, 1972. 117-27.
Dubrow, Heather. Genre. New York: Methuen, 1982.
Edmonds, Randolph. "Black Drama in the American Theatre: 1700-1970." The American Theatre: The Sum of Its Parts. New York: Samuel French, 1971. 379-424.
Fishlove, David. Metaphors of Genre: The Role of Analogies in Genre Theory. University Park: Penn State UP, 1993.
Fletcher, Winona. "From Genteel Poet to Revolutionary Playwright: Georgia Douglas Johnson." Theatre Annual 30 (1985): 41-64.
Fuoss, Kirk W. "Lynching Performances: Theatres of Violence." Text and Performance Quarterly 19.1 (1999): 1-37.
Gates, Henry Louis Gates, Henry Louis (Jr.)
(born Sept. 16, 1950, Keyser, W.Va., U.S.) U.S. critic and scholar. Gates attended Yale University and the University of Cambridge. He has chaired Harvard University's department of Afro-American Studies for many years. , Jr. "Writing 'Race' and the Difference It Makes." "Race," Writing, and Difference. Ed. Gates. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1986. 1-20.
Ginzburg, Ralph. 100 Years of Lynching. New York: Lancer, 1976.
Goldsby, Jaquelin. "The High and Low Tech of It: The Meaning of Lynching and the Death of Emmet Till." Yale Journal of Criticism 9 (1996): 245-82.
Gossett, Thomas F. Race: The History of an Idea in America. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1997.
Gregory, Montgomery. "A Chronology of the Negro Theatre." Locke and Gregory 409-23.
--. "The Drama of Negro Life." The New Negro. Ed. Alain Locke. 1925. New York: Atheneum ath·e·nae·um also ath·e·ne·um
1. An institution, such as a literary club or scientific academy, for the promotion of learning.
2. A place, such as a library, where printed materials are available for reading. , 1968. 153-60.
Gunning, Sandra, Race, Rape, and Lynching: The Red Record of American Literature. New York: Oxford UP, 1996.
Hall, Jaquelyn Dowd. Revolt Against Chivalry chivalry (shĭv`əlrē), system of ethical ideals that arose from feudalism and had its highest development in the 12th and 13th cent. : Jessie Daniel Ames and the Women's Campaign Against Lynching. New York: Columbia UP, 1979.
Harris, Trudier. Exorcising Blackness: Historical and Literary Lynching and Burning Rituals. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1984.
Hatch, James V., and Leo Hamalian, eds. Lost Plays of the Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1940. Detroit: Wayne State Wayne State may refer to the following public institutions:
Hay, Samuel A. African American Theatre: An Historical and Critical Analysis. New York: Cambridge UP, 1994.
Hughes, Langston Hughes, Langston (James Langston Hughes), 1902–67, American poet and central figure of the Harlem Renaissance, b. Joplin, Mo., grad. Lincoln Univ., 1929. . "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain." 1925. Hatch and Hamalian 408-12.
Hull, Gloria T. Color, Sex, and Poetry: Three Women Writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1987.
jegede, dele. "Art for Life's Sake: African Art African art, art created by the peoples south of the Sahara.
The predominant art forms are masks and figures, which were generally used in religious ceremonies. as a Reflection of an Afrocentric Cosmology." The African Aesthetic While the African continent is vast and its peoples diverse, certain standards of beauty and correctness in artistic expression and physical appearance, of propriety of comportment and demeanor are held in common among various indigenous African societies and are not exclusive to any one : Keeper of the Traditions. Ed. Kariamu Welsh-Asante. Westport: Greenwood P, 1993. 237-47.
Johnson, Abby Arthur, and Ronald Mayberry Johnson. Propaganda and Aesthetics: The Literary Politics of Afro-American Magazines in the Twentieth Century. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1979.
Johnson, Georgia Douglas. "Catalogue of Writings." Typescript. Library of Congress, 1965.
--. Sunday Morning in the South. c. 1925. Perkins and Stephens 99-109.
Jones, Beverly. "Mary Church Terrell, 1863-1954." Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. Ed. Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown, and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn. 2:1157-59.
Koch, Frederick Koch, Frederick (Henry) (1877–1944) folklorist, educator; born in Covington, Ky. While teaching English at the University of North Dakota (1905–18), he organized a drama society of students and faculty to produce original plays on regional themes. H. "A Folk Theatre in the Making." Theatre Arts Monthly 8.9 (1924): 628-31.
Lewis, David Lewis, David (Kellogg)
(born Sept. 28, 1941, Oberlin, Ohio, U.S.—died Oct. 14, 2001, Princeton, N.J.) U.S. philosopher. He taught at the University of California at Los Angeles from 1966 to 1970 and thereafter at Princeton University. Levering. When Harlem Was in Vogue. New York: Knopf, 1981.
Lipscomb, G. D. Frances--A Play in One-Act. Opportunity May 1925: 148-53.
"Little Theatre of Dallas, Texas “Dallas” redirects here. For other uses, see Dallas (disambiguation).
The City of Dallas (pronounced [ˈdæl.əs] or [ˈdæl. Wins Tournament Trophy." Legitimate 14 May 1924: n. p.
Livingston, Myrtle Smith. For Unborn Children. 1926. Black Theatre U.S.A: Plays by African Americans--The Early Period, 1847-1938. Ed. James V. Hatch and Ted Shine. New York: Free P, 1996. 188-92.
Locke, Alain. "Introduction." Locke and Gregory xiii-xix.
Locke, Alain, and Montgomery Gregory, eds. Plays of Negro Life: A Source Book of Native American Drama. 1927. Westport: Negro UP, 1970.
Macgowan, Kenneth. Footlights footlights
Row of lights set across the front of a stage floor to light the scene. The oil lamps and candles in use in the 17th century eventually gave way to gas and electricity. Across America: Towards a National Theatre. New York: Harcourt, 1929.
McKay, Nellie. "Black Theatre and Drama in the 1920s: Years of Growing Pains grow·ing pains
Pains in the limbs and joints of children or adolescents, frequently occurring at night and often attributed to rapid growth but arising from various unrelated causes. ." Massachusetts Review 28 (1987): 615-26.
Mitchell, Joseph S. Son-Boy. 1928. Hatch and Hamalian 76-92.
Murphy, Brenda. American Realism and American Drama, 1880-1940. New York: Cambridge UP, 1987.
"Nation Roused to Lynching Danger." New York Amsterdam News 3 Jan. 1923: 7.
Omi, Michael, and Howard Winant Howard Winant is an American sociologist and race theorist. Professor Winant is most well known for developing the theory of racial formation along with Michael Omi. Currently, Winant is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. . Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1980s. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 1986.
Perkins, Kathy A. "The Impact of Lynching on the Art of African American Women." Perkins and Stephens, 15-20.
Perkins, Kathy A., and Judith L. Stephens, eds. Strange Fruit: Plays on Lynching by American Women. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1998.
Raper, Arthur. The Tragedy of Lynching. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1933.
Rogers, J. W., Jr. Judge Lynch. 1923. Locke and Gregory 215-33.
Saunders, Leslie Catherine. The Development of Black Theatre in America. Baton Rouge Baton Rouge (băt`ən rzh) [Fr.,=red stick], city (1990 pop. 219,531), state capital and seat of East Baton Rouge parish, SE La. : Louisiana State UP, 1988.
Schroeder, Patricia R. The Feminist Possibilities of Dramatic Realism. Cranbury: Associated UP, 1986.
Stephens, Judith L. "'And Yet They Paused' and 'A Bill to be Passed': Newly Recovered Lynching Dramas by Georgia Douglas Johnson." African American Review The African American Review is a quarterly journal and the official publication of the Division on Black American Literature and Culture of the Modern Language Association. 33 (1999): 519-22.
--. "The Anti-Lynch Play: Toward an Interracial Feminist Dialogue in Theatre." Journal of American Drama and Theatre 2.3 (1990): 59-69.
"Anti-Lynch Plays by African American Women: Race, Gender, and Social Protest in American Drama." African American Review 26 (1992): 329-39.
--. "The Harlem Renaissance and the New Negro Movement." The Cambridge Companion to American Women Playwrights. Ed. Brenda Murphy. New York: Cambridge UP, 1999. 98-117.
--. "Lynching, American Theatre, and the Preservation of a Tradition." Journal of American Drama and Theatre 9.1 (1997): 54-65.
--. "Lynching Dramas and Women: History and Critical Context." Perkins and Stephens 3-14.
--. "Revisiting Representations of an American Race Ritual: Early Lynching Dramas, 1905-1920." Forthcoming in The Imagined Self: Revisioning the African American Text. Ed. Wilfred Samuels. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2000.
Sundquist, Eric. To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1993.
Tate, Caludia. "Introduction." The Selected Works of Georgia Douglas Johnson. New York: Hall, 1997. xvii-lxxx.
Terrell, Mary Church Terrell, Mary Church (1863–1954) civil rights activist; born in Memphis, Tenn. The daughter of former slaves, Terrell's life spanned the period from the Emancipation Proclamation to the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. . "Lynching from a Negro's Point of View." North Atlantic Review June 1904: 853-68.
Thomas, Augustus Thomas, Augustus (1857–1934) playwright; born in St. Louis, Mo. Praised for his use of distinctly American material, his first popular success was Alabama (1891), based on a family conflict in the wake of the Civil War. . "Preface." One Act Plays for Stage and Study. New York: Samuel French, 1924. 6-8.
Tolnay, Stewart, and E. M. Beck. A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1995.
Wall, Cheryl A. Women of the Harlem Renaissance. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1995.
Watkins, Mel. On the Real Side: Laughing. Lying, and Signifying--The Underground Tradition of African American Humor That Transformed American Culture, From Slaver, to Richard Pryor. New York: Simon, 1994.
Wells-Barnett, Ida B. On Lynchings: Southern Horrors, A Red Record and Mob Rule in New Orleans New Orleans (ôr`lēənz –lənz, ôrlēnz`), city (2006 pop. 187,525), coextensive with Orleans parish, SE La., between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, 107 mi (172 km) by water from the river mouth; founded . New York: Arno P, 1969.
White, Walter White, Walter (Francis) (1893–1955) civil rights leader, author; born in Atlanta, Ga. Fair-skinned, blond, and blue-eyed although part black, he could pass for white but chose to champion the cause of the black race after experiencing a race riot in Atlanta, . Rope and Faggot: A Biography of Judge Lynch. 1929. New York: Arno P, 1969.
Zangrando, Robert. The NAACP Crusade Against Lynching. 1909-1950. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1960.