Historic Markers Across Alabama

Lynching in America / Lynching in Letohatchee

Marker ID:  
Location: 5267 West Hickory Grove Rd, Letohatchee, AL
County: Montgomery
Coordinates: N 32° 3.914    W 086° 23.058
  32.06523333    -86.3843
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


Lynching in America

Thousands of black people were the victims of lynching and racial violence in the United States between 1877 and 1950. The lynching of African Americans during this era was a form of racial terrorism intended to intimidate black people and enforce racial hierarchy and segregation. Lynching was most prevalent in the South. After the Civil War, violent resistance to equal rights for African Americans and an ideology of white supremacy led to violent abuse of racial minorities and decades of political, social, and economic exploitation. Lynching became the most public and notorious form of terror and subordination. White mobs were usually permitted to engage in racial terror and brutal violence with impunity. Many black people were pulled out of jails or given over to mobs by law enforcement officials who were legally required to protect them. Terror lynchings often included burning and mutilation, sometimes in front of crowds numbering in the thousands. Many of the names of lynching victims were not recorded and will never be known, but over 300 documented lynchings took place in Alabama alone. Lowndes County had fourteen documented lynchings – among the ten highest of all counties in the state.

Lynching in Letohatchee

In early 1900, a white mob lynched a black man in Letohatchee, Alabama, without investigation or trial, after he was accused of killing a white man. Lawless killings of black people were common at the time, and allegations against black people were rarely subject to scrutiny.

After the lynching, a local black man named Jim Cross condemned the violence. Soon, that activism made him a target. On March 3, 1900, a mob of white men shot and killed Jim Cross in the doorway of his Letohatchee home, then entered and killed Mr. Cross's wife, son, and daughter. No one was ever arrested for these lynchings.

Years later, on July 24, 1917, William Powell and his brother, whose first name was reported as Samuel or Jesse, were also lynched in Letohatchee. Some white newspapers claimed the brothers were wanted for highway robbery, but more detailed reports indicated that the young black men had merely been "insolent" to a white farmer after brushing against his horse on the road. After an argument erupted, the Powell brothers were arrested, seized by a mob of 100 white men, and hung from a tree along the road between Letohatchee and Hayneville. No one was punished.

These seven people lynched in Letohatchee, Alabama, were victims of racial terrorism that aimed to restore white supremacy while denying black people the rights of citizenship and the protection of the law.

2016 by Equal Justice Initiative, Community Remembrance

End of Lynching in America / Lynching in Letohatchee