“The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan” by Laurence Leamer details the racially motivated of Michael Donald and the criminal and civil trials that followed. In 1981, two White men abducted and tortured the teen in retaliation for another local case that had resulted in two mistrials. Along with other members of the local chapter of the KKK, they felt that if Black people could serve on juries and thus allow a Black man to kill a White man and live, the reverse should also be fair. Their decision to hunt down and murder Donald would have a tremendous impact on the organization’s financial well-being and thus existence.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is located about a 15-minute walk away from the Legacy Museum. It’s really pretty from the outside with beautifully landscaped plant beds and a brown wood fence surrounding the Memorial. I’d read about lynchings before in books about Ida B. Wells and At the Hands of Persons Unknown. But it was something different to walk through the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and crane your neck to look at all of these blocks knowing that each one of them represented the loss of at least one person’s life. It’s important to note that this isn’t a memorial to lynching but rather a memorial to those who lost their lives to lynching. So the focus is on those who lost their lives rather than those who participated in lynchings.
Phillip Dray details the history of mob violence and lynchings in At the Hands of Persons Unknown. Dray lays out how lynchings were used as a form of political terrorism aimed at subjugating Black people and enforcing white supremacy.