Legislation of the 1920s>Walter White to Emily
Letter from Walter F. White to Emily W. Osgood (October 25, 1922)
NAACP Papers, Part 7: The Anti-Lynching Campaign, 1912-1955,
Series B: Anti-Lynching Legislative and Publicity Files, 1916-1955,
Library of Congress (Microfilm, Reel 1, Frames 440-41).
Emily W. Osgood
dear Miss Osgood:
the suggestion of Mr. Moorfield Storey I am writing you with reference
to a plan which we hope will serve as a final shove to put the
Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill through the United States Senate.
already know that for eleven years the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People has been working in every possible
way to arouse the conscience of America to the dangers of lynching.
As a result of these efforts we secured the introduction in Congress
of a bill which gives the Federal Government the authority to
act when the State courts have shown conclusively that they either
cannot or will set. It required heroulean efforts to secure the
passage of that bill by the House, but due to the loyal persons
like yourself we were able to achieve that result when, on January
26, the bill passed the House by a vote of 230-119.
bill was then referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
and on July 28 that Committee reported the bill favorably. We
have secured definite promises that the measure will be the first
order of business on the Senate calendar when it convenes in the
extra session called by President Harding on November 20.
feel that what we need to do now is to dramatize as highly as
possible the whole question of lynching and put it so forceful
before the American people that public opinion in favor of this
bill may be so overwhelming that the Senate can do nothing but
pass it. After much deliberation and consultation with publicity
experts we have decided to insert in newspapers of wide circulation,
published in strategic centers, a full page advertisement just
prior to the reconvening of a full page advertisement just prior
to the reconvening of Congress, in which we are to put in as startling
a manner as possible the held truths about lynching, of which
the American public is so woefully ignorant. For instance, we
will point that, contrary to the usual belief that all lynchings
are caused by rape, in less that 17 per cent, of all the nearly
four thousand cases of lynching during the past thirty-two years
has there even been a charge of rape; and again that eighty-three
women, white and colored, have been lynched during the past thirty
will also show that the charge that the Dyer Bill is unconstitutional
is a false one, used in many cases by opponents of the bill as
a basis for attack which will cover other and less worthy objections.
We will point the proof of this fact that the bill has been declared
constitutional by the attorney General of the United States, the
Judiciary Committees of both Houses of Congress, by eminent jurists
like Moorfield Storey and the former Assistant to the Attorney
General, Wade H. Ellis; and further, the Senate has been urged
to pass the bill by the American Bar Association, by nineteen
Justices of Superior and Supreme Courts of various states, and
by many other eminent jurists including two former United States
attorneys general. The cost of this campaign in a carefully selected
list of papers will be slightly more than $10,000. We are fortunate
I that the American Fund for Public Service at its meeting on
October 11 voted to donate for this purpose $5,000 provided the
NAACP raises a like amount. Unfortunately the time is so short
that we are unable to make and intensive campaign for small contributions
to meet this offer. It is therefore, necessary that we call upon
those of our friends who have loyally supported us in the past.
must say that it is with great reluctance that I make this appeal
to you because of your contribution made last spring through Mr.
Storey. I do so, however, because of your deep interest and also
because this offers an exceptional opportunity for a decisive
thrust at a critical moment towards the abolition of the barbaric
practice of lynching and the burning of human beings at the stake.
In addition to the facts I stated above, we are making an appeal
in these advertisements that every interested person wire his
Senator urging passage of the Dyer Bill. We feel that this method
will result in the sending of thousands of telegrams to Washington,
which will mean the passage of the bill. We are asking five friends
to contribute $1,000 each for this purpose. Will you be willing
to be one of the five?
Very sincerely yours,