The Tuskegee Institute records the lynching of 3,436 blacks between 1882 and 1950. Many times, a photographer was present to capture these events. Often, the images were made into postcards and sold as souvenirs to the crowds in attendance. These images are some of photography’s most brutal, surviving to this day so that we may now look back on the terrorism unleashed on America’s African American community and perhaps know our history and ourselves better. The almost one hundred images reproduced here are a testament to the camera’s ability to make us remember what we often choose to forget.
“Many people today, despite the evidence, will not believe—don’t want to believe—that such atrocities happened in America not so very long ago. These photographs bear witness to . . . an American holocaust.” — Congressman John Lewis
ESSAYS BY HILTON ALS, JOHN LEWIS, AND LEON F. LITWACK. EDITED BY JAMES ALLEN