Digital History>eXplorations>Lynching>Anti-Lynching Legislation of the 1920s>Walter White to Alice Robertson


Walter White to Alice M. Robertson (December 21, 1921)

Source: NAACP Papers, Library of Congress

"I am taking the liberty of presenting certain facts to you for your consideration in connection with the Dyer Anti-lynching Bill, H. R. 13. I present these facts for your consideration with the hope that they may enable you to see more clearly the necessity for federal action against lynching. I have been informed that you are at present opposed to the bill.

May I first make clear to you the position of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People with reference to this legislation. First, there is no sectional bias in our advocacy of federal action against lynchings. We are as opposed to lynching in the North as we are in the South and we condemn as uncompromisingly the lynching of a white person as we do of a colored. I believe that you will agree with me in the statement that a great deal of the present disregard of and disrespect for law is due to the fact that many states in America either could not or would not stamp out lynching or punish lynchers. Last summer I was in England and a number of times was forced to hang my head in shame when a prominent Englishmen intimated that many of the citizens of America must be barbarians with a thin veneer of civilization since lynchings and burnings at the stake had been allowed to go unchecked. It is
amazing the disrepute into which America has fallen because of the practice of lynching.

From 1889 through December 19, 1921 there have been 2,434 know lynchings in America. Of that number 570 or only 16.6 percent of the victims have been lynched for rape. In each of these cases rape was alleged to be the cause and both you and I know of many cases in which it has been discovered after the lynching that the victim was not guilty. Mobs have found that they can lynch American citizens for any crime whatever and oftimes for no crime other that personal unpopularity of the victim and them justify their actions by attributing rape to a victim.


Of the 3.434 lynchings quoted above 64 of the victims, -53 white and 11 colored-have been women. Certainly no charge of rape could have been placed against them."

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