The following is courtesy of The
Freeman Institute and has been credited to William
Lynch, a White slave owner, who reportedly made the speech
on the banks of the James River in 1712. Some readers may
have a problem with this, but we substituted the
word "BLACK" for the degrading word that was
used in the speech. This speech and additional material is on this web
site not to state an opinion or to give offense to anyone,
but to augment Black Studies materials available to
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According to an essay appearing in
"Brother Man- The Odyssey of Black Men in America- An
Anthology" Lynch was a British slave owner in the West
Indies who came to the United States to tell American slave
owners how to keep their slaves under control. It is
believed that the term "lynching" is derived from
"Gentlemen, I greet you here on the
bank of the James River in the year of our Lord one thousand
seven hundred and twelve. First, I shall thank you, the
gentlemen of the Colony of Virginia, for bringing me here. I
am here to help you solve some of your problems with slaves.
Your invitation reached me on my modest plantation in the
West Indies where I have experimented with some of the
newest and still the oldest methods of control of slaves.
Ancient Rome would envy us if my
program were implemented. As our boat sailed south on the
James River, named for our illustrious King, whose version
of the Bible we cherish. I saw enough to know that your
problem is not unique. While Rome used cords of woods as
crosses for standing human bodies along its highways in
great numbers you are here using the tree and the rope on
I caught the whiff of a dead slave hanging from a tree a
couple of miles back. You are not only losing a valuable
stock by hangings, you are having uprisings, slaves are
running away, your crops are sometimes left in the fields
too long for maximum profit, you suffer occasional fires,
your animals are killed.
Gentlemen, you know what your problems are:
I do not need to elaborate. I am not here to enumerate your
problems, I am here to introduce you to a method of solving
them. In my bag here, I have a fool proof method for
controlling your Black slaves. I guarantee everyone of you
that if installed correctly it will control the slaves for
at least 300 hundred years. My method is simple. Any member
of your family or your oversee r can use it.
I have outlined a number of differences among the slaves:
and I take these differences and make them bigger. I use
fear, distrust, and envy for control purposes. These methods
have worked on my modest plantation in the West Indies and
it will work throughout the South. Take this simple little
list of differences, and think about them.
On top of my list is "Age", but it is
there only because it starts with an "A": the second is
"Color" or shade, there is intelligence, size, sex, size
of plantations, status on plantation, attitude of
owners, whether the slave live in the valley, on hill,
East, West, North, South, have fine hair, coarse hair,
or is tall or short. Now that you have a list of
I shall give
you an outline of action-but before that I shall assure you that distrust is
stronger than trust and envy is stronger than adulation,
respect, or admiration.
The Black slave after receiving this indoctrination shall
carry on and will become self re-fueling and self generating
for hundreds of years, maybe thousands. Don't forget you
must pitch the old Black male vs. the young Black male, and
the young Black male against the old Black male. You must
use the dark skin slaves vs. the light skin slaves and the
light skin slaves vs. the dark skin slaves. You must use the
female vs. the male, and the male vs. the female. You must
also have your white servants and overseers distrust all
Blacks, but it is necessary that your slaves trust and
depend on us. They must love, respect and trust only
Gentlemen, these kits are your keys to
control. Use them. Have your wives and children use them,
never miss an opportunity. If used intensely for one year,
the slaves themselves will remain perpetually
distrustful. Thank you, gentlemen."
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Dr. Freeman's even-handed definition and critique of BOTH Afrocentrism
AND Eurocentrism. He introduces the concept of
We found a web site that said Willie
Lynch never existed. It said there are no historical
records of him or the book he wrote. Because we are
"Truth centric" if anyone can
give us some facts, we would be most grateful.
Also, we will publish any
information on this page that intelligently addresses
the "Willie Lynch" subject.
"I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more if
they had known they were slaves."
-- Harriet Tubman
Below are the "unvarnished" responses from people who
have reviewed this page about the Willie Lynch speech
-- My name is Paisley
Demby. I happened upon your website and did some
research on the speech and this is what I came up with:
"There's been quite a bit of hubbub recently over the
origin of the word "lynch". We addressed this word
some time ago, in Issue
11, where we stated that the word derives from the name
of one [Captain] William Lynch (1742 - 1820), who made a
name for himself by forming a vigilante group to uphold
order in his town. The earliest reference to Captain Lynch
being the namesake of the word lynch comes from A. Ellicott,
in 1811, who wrote "Captain Lynch just mentioned was
the author of the Lynch laws so well known and so frequently
carried into effect some years ago in the southern States in
violation of every principle of justice and
jurisprudence" (from A. Ellicott by V. Mathews, 1908).
Apparently, Captain Lynch's vigilante tribunal was first
convened some time between 1776 and 1780. The true identity
of the Lynch who gave his name to the English verb is not so
much in question now as are the details of his life. There
is a speech attributed to William Lynch which has been
circulated on the internet and elsewhere, and which even
Louis Farrakhan referred to at the Million Man March of
October 16, 1995.
By quoting extensively from the
"Willie Lynch" speech, Mr. Farrakhan inspired the
birth of a new term, Willie Lynch Syndrome, based on Lynch's
supposed speech, which is reproduced in its entirety
above": Source: http://www.takeourword.com/Issue060.html
The provenance of this speech has been the
subject of much scholarly (and not-so-scholarly) debate. We
wish to add $0.02 to the discussion, and allow us to say
that we believe very strongly that this speech is a
ridiculous fake, written in the 1990s (there's no record of
it being circulated before 1993).
First, the writer of this speech has made
hardly any attempt to use the writing/speech style of the
early 18th century.
Second, the author was not at all successful
at steering clear of very specific anachronisms. We'll name
only the most glaring word-choice errors: fool-proof, used
in the speech, actually dates from only 1902. The noun
program is not used in the sense found in this speech until
the 1830s. Self-refueling is an utter anachronism, as the
term refueling did not arise until the early 20th century.
Use of installed when referring to something other than a
person did not first occur until the mid-19th century.
Moreover, attitude did not refer to anything other than a
physical position until the mid-19th century.
Third, a speaker would hardly need to so
carefully identify the date and place of his speech, nor
would he be likely to refer to King James as "our
illustrious King, whose version of the Bible we
cherish", unless he were a person of the 1990s making a
clumsy attempt at writing a fake speech from the early 18th
century. We cannot imagine why the writer introduces the
theme of "James... our illustrious king" unless it
is merely to emphasize that this took place in colonial
times. Only someone creating a fake would need to try to
establish a date for the speech within the fake itself. And,
by the way, James was long-dead by 1712, the monarch of that
era being Queen Anne.
Finally, there is no evidence that a William
Lynch from a "modest plantation" in the West
Indies ever existed. There is, however, plenty of evidence
for the existence of Captain William Lynch of Pittsylvania,
Virginia, whom we have identified as the probable source of
the verb lynch, and who was born fifty years after the date
given in the speech above.
There are other obvious characteristics of
the speech which render it a 20th-century creation. Some of
these are discussed at a web
site devoted to the subject and created by Anne Taylor,
collection development librarian at the University of
Missouri-St. Louis. By the way, Ms. Taylor seems to be one
of the first to have posted the speech on the internet.
obtained it from the publisher of a free publication in St.
Louis, The St. Louis Black Pages, dated 1994 but published
in 1993. This is the earliest reference we've been able to
find to the Willie Lynch speech in print. We think it's time
to send Willie Lynch's speech to the urban legends
department. For information on another attempt to revise
history using etymology, see our discussion of the
origin of the word picnic.
Regards, Paisley Demby, with email contact information above...
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Click here to learn more about this authentic Gullah
-- Please do not fall into
the trap ("once again") of searching whether
Willie Lynch ever existed or not. If we need whatever proof
of what happened in the past, all we have to do is look at
ourselves right now and the condition within which we are.
God bless, Marjorie Aime
Fox News Channel segment about the
Black History Collection showcased at
"Transatlantic Slave Trade" exhibit (NY) ***************************************************************
-- From Debra
Cloud -- I would like to throw a few questions regarding
the Willie Lynch speech into the ballpark.
Why would a person be invited from the West Indies to
Virginia just to deliver an 8-paragraph speech? Back then,
such a voyage would have been too strenuous and expensive
for this, especially from an unknown person, especially when
letter-writing was still the main form of long-distance
communication? Of course, Lynch could have been in Virginia
on business just before being spontaneously invited to
speak. Still, if there had been a William Lynch whose word
was so valued that he should deliver such a short speech in
person rather than in writing, then certainly his speech
would have been reprinted and commented upon in the local
Also, he claims to want to give an "outline of
action," yet no such plan is clearly given. It seems
that a person who travels from the West Indies to Virginia
for a speech would have elaborated more.
Thirdly, in paragraph 6, the author writes that
"distrust is stronger than trust," yet only 5
sentences later, contradicts himself, saying, "it is
necessary that your slaves trust and depend on us."
Such a big contradiction would be expected from someone
whose audience is listening intently for detailed
information about specific steps in maintaining its
livelihood through better control of his property. Why the
switch in subjects from 3rd to 2nd person? Why not mention
at least 2 or 3 methods of using dark-skinned slaves against
light-skinned ones, and vice versa? Contradiction and lack
of detail make me leery of any claims that this
"speech" is not a hoax.
Furthermore, the obvious stab at the sore points in
African-American psyche, such as gender and facial feature
issues, makes me believe it was written for a contemporary
audience, since "female vs. ... male and ... male vs.
... female." would not have been so major a societal
issue amongst slaves in 1712 in the United States.
I would have been stirred by these paragraphs, had they been
honestly presented as a statement of opinion about how some
slaveholders helped - purposely or inadvertently - to hurt
the black community, regardless of the slavery itself.
But now I, as a member of the African-American community,
feel betrayed by someone who has the audacity to present
such unbelievable, falsely disillusioned, undocumented
speech as accurate and enlightening on a day during which
our community wanted to display and confirm its hope,
pride, enlightenment and strength. Sincerely, Debra Cloud
Rosetta Stone Replica
-- I am also from Germany
and I read the "Willie Lynch Speech" and I know
about the discussions, whether W. L lived and held this
speech. About the speech, I do not know. But even when he
did not hold such a speech - when this speech is only
fictional, the history is real and terrible and the spirit
of a Willie Lynch is still alive all around the world. This
speech, whenever it was written, it doesn't matter. The
speech exists and expresses the feelings of many
"superior" people, regardless their color, race,
sex, age. And that should be shocking enough.
That I found in a German Dictioniary (Wahrig, Deutsches
Wörterbuch, 1986) I translate the explanation into English for you, first the
German original text: lynchen: ungesetzlich richten und töten (engl. nach dem
Namen des Richters William Lynch in Virginia, der 1780
eigenmächtige Rechtsprechung ausübte)
in English: to lynch: illegal judgment and killing (english derives from
the name of the judge William Lynch in Virginia, who,
without any authorization, performed jurisdiction in the
year 1780. Yours, Christine,
-- "Willie Lynch"
is a fabrication. No evidence of there being such a person
has been discovered. The "speech" is a modern
fabrication, it has become an urban myth. The truth is bad
enough. We don't need ugly myths to perpetuate the ugly
legacy of slavery.
--- The "Willie
Lynch" legend is probably the most controversial piece
of supposed unproven literature to African-Americans. I am a
black man that lives within the truth and reality that was
proposed through that strategic "fictional"
speech. Who cares if it is or isn't true? It only shows a
conclusion of a "beginning" in theory. I read the
speech initially with anger (obviously), but in the end, I
saw the speech as a way to open my eyes as a young male to
change my thinking toward my race and my fellow man. True
enough, I see that anger could be concluded at the thought
of some person writing something like this, but what is it
really doing? Making me want to kill another brother. No.
But it does set up some psychological/ emotional change in
me to want to make things right with my people today.
African- American people need to see that despite the
theories that the Willie Lynch writing may have, they do
paint a very accurate ! picture of what could have and
probably was said by some slave owner at some point and
time. Whites (especially in America) also need to see that
their heritage was not this squeaky clean, I came from
across seas and made a humble living without the use of
slave labor mentality. The speech is (and I think in theory)
was produced to open eyes. I wouldn't be surprised if a
black man wrote it. Daialogue
What would motivate a White man
to be interested in
< Click on image for brief response.
The Freeman Institute
Black History Collection.
< Click on image
-- Mistake! You should NOT
have changed ANY words on the Willie Lynch letter. The whole
point of having it, is to let people who haven't read it
feel what the man was saying. By taking words out trying not
to offend someone, you take away the impact of what the
thought process was during that time. Besides YOU are not
offending anyone...Willie Lynch was the author. Lets
preserve the truth...the full truth.
If you are trying to let people FEEL the
impact of someone's words...now matter how much you think
it's meaningless...you don't SOFTEN ANY of it! It's not
about offending someone...YOU didn't write it. So you aren't
putting yourself in the position of being a foul person. For
someone who has never seen any slavery films or watched any
documentaries on the subject...they need to know just how
FOUL it was back then. WE were not referred to as BLACK! It
needs to be known just how bad a time in this country it was
for US...so we NEVER head back in that direction. So you
know...I'm a college grad and I never heard that word until
I was almost out of high school. I remember watching Roots
in the late 70's.
You are doing a DIS SERVICE by trying to soften it up
changing the word "nigger". BLACK is NOT the word
used. I don't see how you don't understand that. That's
almost like changing things in the dictionary because you
don't want to offend anyone. So many Caucasians in this
country are in a rush to cover up what happened or to find
other terminology's to refer to what was most foul! We were
even referred to as less than a man in the constitution.
Heck I also remember reading some VERY foul statements from
the great Abe Lincoln about Blacks. Do you see what I
You seem to forget...there are kids that don't know where we
come from and what the mood was like. The last thing you do
is try and soften things up. They need to know exactly how
it was. I'm not trying to blast you...but this is a very big
problem in our country. People act like those kind of words
were never spoken. You shouldn't have to feel bad about it
if you don't personally feel that way. Otherwise...leave the
word Nigger in. It is a reality. People weren't walking
around back then being courteous to blacks. You know it and
I know it. Lets keep things in perspective. There are kids
that go around calling each other nigga and nigger. THEY are
the ones I'm talking about. They use these words without
realizing where it comes from and the feeling it was meant
to instill. Aside from all of that...be well
-- I think that the Willie
Lynch theory was used to control the slaves in America. This
"Willie Lynch" mentality is still being played out
by African Americans today.
I think that many Whites still use these measures to keep
African Americans in a distrustful, distructive mindset.
I would like to see our schools start to deprogram African
Americans. We should start with early childhood education. I
think that this way of thinking among Blacks must be
addressed, and that it should be reversed.
Some people say that they don't believe a Willie Lynch
existed. Well, I don't know if the actual person existed,
but I am certain that this type of deliberate brainwashing
did exist, because it, and drugs has almost destroyed the
African American race in this country. Pat
-- I write this response with love. I read the "Willie Lynch Speech", the information regarding its authenticity and the e-mailed comments from
others who read it. I was more disturbed by the emails than by the actual speech. How can we question the validity of authenticating
accounts of our own history? To suggest that we - as a people - should be buoyed in any way by a false/flawed, patronizing "historical"
account is insulting!!
There are traceable (i.e. documented) historical accounts from which we can learn our history if we choose to look for them. There are Black
scholars who have devoted a significant portion of their lives to collecting verifiable information for us all. Their work deserves our attention - not
to mention our gratitude and respect.
Relying on schools and dubious historical accounts to educate children actually falls within the tradition of the "Willie Lynch School of
Thought". Too often we make the mistake of expecting schools and media to raise our children and teach them their history - despite
repeated proof that this will never be done to our satisfaction, if it is done at all.
If the story was written as a representation of what slavery has done to us, then it should have been presented as such. Hence - if the
validity of the story is debatable, that should always be stated up account. Nobody needed to teach early European Americans how to
oppress. They left their homelands to flee oppression and fully understood it by the time they reached these shores.
Do not sell yourselves or your children short! Don't set a plate of slop at your dinner table and claim it's a delicacy, just admit that you're too
lazy to cook. Lies and inaccuracies (where present) do not an education make.
Much Love, Odge
-- Unfortunately for the black racists who take nourishment from this clumsy fraud, the first people to be "lynched" were white conservatives.
Specifically, they were English Tories working in the American colonies to undermine the revolution. One Charles Lynch presided over
extralegal "courts" at which these unfortunates were sent to their doom, giving birth to the phrase "Lynch law" and, ultimately, "lynching."
This is surely the most pathetic and ridiculous fraud of its kind since the "Protocol of the Elders of Zion."
Latest Book ***********************************************************
-- I have seen the speech, with exact duplication of the text, in a number of
places. This alone is somewhat suspicious, as very few speeches of this
type seem to have been recorded verbatim at the time unless the text was
also written in a document such as a letter, a handbill, or in a newspaper.
Also, the text is anachronistic. The other information accompanying the
speech in reference to "William Lynch" is flawed. The speech is attributed
to William Lynch, but the given date is 1712. I think, over time, two men
named Lynch have become confused.
Indeed, the second Lynch may not have
existed. The first, Charles Lynch, lived in the 18th century in
Virginia. He and his neighbors terrorized Tories, plundering their
property. Eventually his name apparently became associated with physical
violence against people (often whipping or tarring and feathering), hence
the earliest references I can find to the term "lynching", which seems to
have evolved from the phrase "lynch law". The second Lynch,
William, purportedly was a vigilante who lived in the 19th century. This
"Willie Lynch" is the reference used, for example, during the Million Man
There has been much debate about this, some of it scholarly, some of it
unencumbered by empiricism. I'm including a link (below) to a more
scholarly exchange on this subject. If someone has more definitive
information, I would also appreciate receiving it. We are about to use
this "speech" as the basis for a social studies lesson on investigating
primary and secondary sources and propaganda.
-- The Willie Lynch (will-he-lynch) letter is a hoax. The term 'lynch'
is derived from a Virginia judge named Lynch because he loved to hang people
who appeared before his court. By the way, where is the James River? The
so-called Willie Lynch' has no genealogy or history or biographical history.
As Goebbels noted: Tell a big enough lie, people will believe it. That is
the Willie Lynch story, a big fat lie. Walter Dean
-- Any idiot could see at a glance that the "Lynch" material is a modern day hoax. Does it sound like it was written by a person in 1712? No, it sounds like it was written by some affirmative action candidate plagiarizing something out of a white man's library.
-- The Willie Lynch doctrine, rather written by Willie Lynch or not, describes measures taken by institutions to control African Americans. This doctrine may or may not have been written during the 1700's. However, its use is evident throughout history ...e.g. welfare in the 60's...Gangster Rap Music..90's... the Judicial Oversight Demonstration Initiative in 2000. All of these
initiatives involve social engineering designed to foster distrust, envy and conflict within the Black Community by making illusions real...Is not this the essence of the Willie Lynch doctrine?
-- I graduated from Memphis State University
in 1960 with a double major in English and French and a
minor in history with enough hours in American History to
have declared it as a third major. Among the courses I
studied were courses in Social and Intellectual History and
History of the Old South. I was not raised to be a racist. I
supported the Civil rights movement of the 60's, and I
believe in the equality of men of all colors.
I first saw
the speech credited to Willie Lynch yesterday. Not only did
the language fail to ring true, the attitude failed to match
the attitude of the times. My immediate reaction to the
document was to get online to look for a connection between
Willie Lynch and urban legends because having such a speech
from someone's vivid imagination presented as true or a
representative of the times promotes racism. If future
generations are given details of Jeffry Dammer's
crimes as representative of 20th century American life, they
will believe that we, their ancestors, were cannibals.
-- I have doubts
about the authenticity of the Willie Lynch letter based on
semantics alone, after reviewing the arguments given by
Spellman College Professor, Dr. William Jelani Cobb -- Interesting direct
Considering the limited
number of extant sources from 18th century, if this speech
had been “discovered” it would’ve been the subject of
incessant historical panels, scholarly articles and
debates. It would literally be a career-making find. But
the letter was never “discovered,” but rather it
“appeared” – bypassing the official historical circuits
and making its way via internet directly into the canon of
American racial conspiratoria.
In the first paragraph,
he promises that “Ancient Rome would envy us if my program
is implemented,” but the word “program” did not
enter the English language with this connotation until
1837 – at the time of this speech it was used to reference
a written notice for theater events.
Two paragraphs later he
says that he will “give an outline of action,” for
slave-holders; the word “out-line” had appeared only 50
years earlier and was an artistic term meaning a sketch –
it didn’t convey it’s present meaning until 1759.
Even more damning is his
use of the terms “indoctrination” and “self-refueling” in
the next sentence. The first word didn’t carry it current
connotation until 1832; the second didn’t even enter the
language until 1811 -- a century after the purported date
of Lynch’s speech. More obviously, Lynch uses the word “Black,”
with an upper-case “B” to describe African Americans more
than two centuries before the word came to be applied as a
common ethnic identifier. (Webmaster
note -- We substituted the word "N*****" for "Black".)
Copy of speech (2003) by Dr. William Jelani Cobb
-- I long ago
stopped listening to sentences that begin with "The
problem with black people is," or end with "and
that's why black people can't get ahead now,"
which partly explains my initial indifference to the
now-famous William Lynch Speech.
letter was never "discovered." It just showed up
on the Internet one day.
In the few years since the speech on
how to train slaves first appeared, it has been cited
by countless college students and a black member of
the House of Representatives, along the way becoming
the essential verbal footnote in barbershop analysis
of what's wrong with black people. The rapper Talib
Kweli laments on the song "Know That," "blacks are
dyin'/how to make a slave/by Willie Lynch is still
applyin'," and one professor at a Midwestern
university made the speech required reading for her
class. Of late, the frequency of its citations seems
to be increasing — at least three people have asked me
about it in the last month.
According to the speech's preface,
Master Lynch was concerned enough with the fortunes of
his slave-holding brethren in the American colonies to
present a lecture on the bank of the James River,
explaining how to keep unruly servants disunited. The
old, he argued, should be pitted against the young,
the dark against the light, the male against the
female and so on. Such disunifying tactics "will
control the slaves for at least 300 years," he
guaranteed. And that, it seems, is why black people
can't get ahead now.
There are many problems with this
document — not the least of which is the fact that it
is absolutely fake.
As a historian, I am generally
skeptical of smoking guns. Historical work, like
forensic science, isn't some flashy field — it depends
on the painstaking aggregation of facts that lead
researchers to the most likely explanation, but rarely
the only one. Slavery was an incredibly complex set of
social, economic and legal relations that literally
boiled down to black and white. But given the
variation in size of farms, number of enslaved
workers, region, crops grown, law, gender-ratios,
religion and local economy, it is unlikely that a
single letter could explain slave policy for at least
151 years of the institution and its ramifications
down to the present day.
Considering the limited number of
extant sources from 18th century, if this speech had
been "discovered," it would've been the subject of
incessant historical panels, scholarly articles and
debates. It would literally be a career-making find.
But the letter was never "discovered." Rather, it
simply "appeared" on the Internet — bypassing the
official historical circuits and making its way
directly into the canon of American racial
On a more practical
level, the speech is filled with references that are
questionable if not completely inaccurate. Lynch makes
reference to an invitation reaching him on his "modest
plantation in the West Indies." While this is
theoretically possible — the plantation system was
well established in the Caribbean by 1712 — most
plantation owners were absentees who chose to remain
in the colonizing country while the day-to-day affairs
of their holdings were run by hired managers and
But even assuming that
Mr. Lynch was an exception to this practice, much of
the text of his "speech" remains anachronistic. Lynch
makes consistent reference to "slaves" — which again
is possible, though it is far more likely people
during this era would refer to persons in bondage
simply as "Negroes." In the first paragraph, he
promises that "Ancient Rome would envy us if my
program is implemented," but the word "program" did
not enter the English language with this connotation
until 1837 — at the time of this speech it was used
only to reference a written notice for theater events.
Two paragraphs later he says that he
will "give an outline of action," for slave-holders;
the word "out-line" had appeared only 50 years earlier
and at that time was only used as an artistic term
meaning a sketch — it didn't convey its present
meaning until 1759. Even more damning is his use of
the terms "indoctrination" and "self-refueling" in the
next sentence. The first word didn't carry it current
connotation until 1832; the second didn't even enter
the language until 1811 — a century after the
purported date of Lynch's speech. More obviously,
Lynch uses the word "Black," with an upper-case "B,"
to describe African Americans more than two centuries
before the word came to be applied as a common ethnic
In some popular citations, Lynch has
also been — inexplicably — credited with the term
"lynching," which would be odd since the speech
promises to provide slave-holders with non-violent
techniques that will save them the expense of killing
valuable, if unruly, property. This inaccuracy points
to a more basic problem in understanding American
history: the violence directed at black people in
America was exceptional in the regard that it was
racialized and used to reinforce political and social
subordination, but it was not unique. Early America
was incredibly violent in general — stemming in part
from the endemic violence in British society and
partly from the violence that tends to be associated
with frontier societies.
For most of its history,
lynching was a non-racial phenomenon — in fact, it
most often directed at white people. The term "Lynch
law" was derived from the mob violence directed at
Tories, or British loyalists, just after the American
Revolution. While there is disagreement about the
precise origins of the term — some associate it with
Charles Lynch, a Revolution-era Justice-of-the-Peace
who imprisoned Tories, others see it as the legacy of
an armed militia founded near the Lynche River or the
militia captain named Lynch who created judicial
tribunals in Virginia in 1776 — there is no reference
to the term earlier than 1768, more than half a
century after the date given for the speech.
Given the sparse judicial resources
(judges were forced to travel from town-to-town
hearing cases, which is where we get the term
"judicial circuit") and the frequency of property
crimes in the early republic, lynching was often seen
as a form of community justice. Not until the 1880s,
after the end of Reconstruction, did "lynching" become
associated with African Americans; gradually the
number of blacks lynched each year surpassed the
number of whites until it became almost exclusively
directed at black people late in the century.
(Nevertheless, between 1882 and 1944, Tuskegee
University recorded 3,417 lynchings with black victims
-- and 1291 lynchings with white ones.)
The Willie Lynch speech
would seem to give a quick-and-easy explanation of the
roots of our much-lamented "black disunity." You could
make similar arguments about the lingering effects of
a real historical document like the 1845 tract,
"Religious Instruction of Negroes" — written by a
proslavery Presbyterian minister — or the British
practice of mixing different African ethnicities on
slave ships in order to make communication — and
therefore rebellion — more difficult. But this too is
questionable — it presumes that whites, or any other
diverse group, do not face divisive gender issues,
generation gaps and class distinctions.
Willie Lynch offers no
explanation for the white pro-lifer who guns down a
white abortion-provider or white-on-white domestic
violence. He does not explain political conflicts
among different Latino groups or crime in Asian
communities. Unity is not the same as unanimity and in
the end, black people are no more disunited than any
other group of people — and a lot more united than we
give ourselves credit for.
William Jelani Cobb is a professor
of history at Spelman College.
My name is
Andrew Levi. I am from Africa. I do totally find the
behavior of black people in America to be way different from
the African people and I have been wondering why?? Why do
we hate each other so much, Why do we feel bad when we see
a brother rising up, why are we still being enemies to
ourselves even after being tortured and mistreated by the
whites and why can't we come together in this post slavery
and post segregation American and help ourselves. Why are
we so divided and yet we look a like and speak the same
I don't think we should be discussing how authentic is
Willie Lynch's speech but we should ask ourselves is it
true. And yeah it's true. Look at our selves, we can't
even help our kids go to school get education and have
better future yet education is free and so many college
funds for those who can't afford. We are the minority race
and yet we have the largest number inmates in our jails
(although some are innocent) and most crimes are committed
against our own people. We tend to blame everything on
racism" true sometimes" but we are our own failures.
minds are locked up. We have been brainwashed and I believe
in Willie Lynch's theory. If we can't stand up and open our
minds trust me we gonna be in this kind of state for
hundreds of years. So brothers and Sisters lets rise up and
fight this demon in our minds; Drugs, rape, murder and all
other iniquities. Let free our mind and let the descendants
of Willie Lynch know that we ain' gonna be slaves
forever. We can be free but most important free from our
-- My name is
Sederick Wright. I have been reading the
comments on your site. First of all there should be no
room for negativity when commenting on this subject.
Whether or not he existed or not is trivial, just like the
credentials of the people writing these statements of
disbelief. Well I believe in GOD but there are plenty who
disbelieve based on never seeing or touching HIM. But to
say that HE (GOD or Willie) does not exist is insanity. If
you don't know for sure, please don't tell me one thing or
the other. As a 26 year old African American I am
searching to find truth in my life. But bickering is what
A bunch of people
around the globe arguing over when the speech was given,
did he sail here or not......Man I am only trying to get
us to come together. But now we have made this become an
inspiration of arguing and further disagreement. Which the
date of the speech, his name, origin.....we are still to
distrusting of what we can't see or touch to realize the
true intention of posting this.....We refer to slavery and
the injustice of prejudice in our homes, yet the rich
African Americans are not at all trying to ban together to
help the less fortunate. So the term of against one
another is apparent.
Before the letter
surfaced I could see the effects of slavery and prejudice
whether between white and blacks, blacks and blacks , or
blacks and other races who choose to stereotype blacks in
a so-called intelligent society. So whether you can put
the blame on one person or many the moral is the same. We
are the only race that came to the united states under
slavery. All other races may have been mistreated or
killed of by the millions for the cultivation of the U.S.
but they were not the "property of another person."
Besides the biggest
problem is that most blacks are not receiving the proper
training or do not wish to receive it because they idolize
being a THUG. Most will not connect to the internet to
read any of this. What are all the people on the page
doing with their knowledge to actually help the black
culture? "I'm so smart and intelligent" is this the moral
of the writings .... to show their
intelligence....it is still the spirit of "I am better
than you or smarter than you"....There is a web site for
the Klan.....the negative forces are so well organized.
But we can't live in the same neighborhood or house with
I am truly hurt that the
Asians have a rich and beautiful culture that is
appreciated by the world. The Dutch, the French, the
Arabs, the Latin's all have a culture from 1000's of years
of intelligence, but to explain to my children that our
the world wide image of black culture is based on the
negativity of HIP HOP. Where are the scholars so my
children can watch positive black images on TV.
Why are the rich (not
wealthy) African Americans not utilizing their resources
to establish better conditions for the communities that
keep producing children under ignorance and poverty. These
are the questions to ask not whether Willie lynch told the
slave owners how to do this. Belief in anything is hard
for this race.
Let me tell another
about this and they will automatically not believe. Why is
this....because they barely see the positive in life and
most blacks consider each other stupid or will bully or
insult an intelligent black. Now when that student
succeeds he or she has all reasons to "Leave them all
behind". We have embraced the negativity and there are to
many having children under that frame of mind. Give the
athletes and entertainers millions but kill their civil
rights leaders. And because a few of us are getting paid.
We are so happy now.
Tell me where there is a college for
blacks to train us for free.....No way of attaining a way
of feeding our children....So everyone is about money and
the pursuit of it....No people training young blacks to be
mechanics or scientists for the betterment of our
culture...Pay for everything even though WE know you don't
have any money. Oh but there are plenty to teach us how
drink, smoke, and pull a trigger. So argue over how we are
going to help each other.
To argue about Willie whether he
lived here or anywhere or over dates and words used
profited no one. So i see the intelligent blacks with
PhD's trying to fight for the title of who is
right.....when we are all wrong as long as our people
continue to fight amongst ourselves. So the spirit of
Willie or "ignorance " is still real and crushing us.
Thank you for reading.
Dr. Freeman discussing a painting from his
collection at a
US Department of Justice Black History Month event (click on photo above for more info about painting)
A photo of the huge area in the main
hall near the United Nations visitor's entrance
at the United Nation's "Transatlantic Slave Trade" exhibit in NYC
(16 March - 30 April, 2011).
20 documents & artifacts from The Freeman Institute Black
History Collection were showcased.
More items from the Collection are exhibited behind the walls.
Dr. Freeman at the United Nations
"Transatlantic Slave Trade" Exhibit.
Twenty documents & artifacts from The Freeman Institute Black History