In today’s world, it is hard to imagine walking down the street and seeing a body hanging from a tree or a light post. However, for African-Americans during the Jim Crow years, the fear was finding the body of loved one, or being the one attached to the rope. America has a long history with lynching. From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States and those are only the ones on record. This, with the countless number of Jim Crows beatings and killings, shows the widespread violence African-Americans faced. Yet with such an epidemic of violence, this history is still in the shadows. In understanding this complex history, one has to uncover how the effect of lynching in America has on the racial issues we face today.
Whenever there is a violent crime, the public’s first response is; Who did it? Why did they do it? How is this possible? Rarely is the first thought on the victims of the crime and their families. Scholars are learning as much about the Jim Crow victims and their families as possible. The Civil Rights Restorative Justice Project, a group of Northeastern University law students, look into Jim Crow crimes from the 1930’s thru the 1950’s to help the
families who have suffered in silence find justice for their lost ones. This serves as a way to bring up the erased history and understand the ways the past continues to resonates, recycles, and reiterate itself through black experiences with the criminal justice system today. It is important to see the similarities of this past since it can still be seen today. From Trayvon Martin to the riots in Ferguson over the shooting of Michael Brown, the events seem to appear as reflections of this past. The public sees these issues today and wonders where they come from when this history has been erased from the textbooks. But learning about this history is one thing; having it told is another.
However, there has been one way that has been effective in keeping this history alive. Music has the ability to transform a person’s sadness and anger to create a passion that stirs those who hear it. Such is the case of Billie Holiday and her song Strange Fruit. The powerful imagery of a lynching is portrayed in the song and one cannot help to be horrified and moved by the music . Songs like this keep the memory of these events and remind the public of this forgotten past. Now a new generation of artists has emerged with a power and influence to point the spotlight on these issues. Artist like Kendrik Lamar singing about the struggles facing these issues as an African-American on the national stage at the Grammys. Artists like Beyoncé performing her Civil Rights song at the halftime of Super Bowl 50 and receiving flak from the news calling it offensive. These artists are using their voices to spread their messages and highlight the issues when a fifty years ago no one could.
In the recent years, the nation has been captivated by racial issues. However, instead of meeting it silence, it is met head on with activism. People now will not be ignored like they have been in the past. But the issue remains that justice does not always present and these tragic events keep happening. It seems that this forgotten past is resurfacing at the time we need it most. This is a history we cannot afford to lose. Not only must we learn about this past, we must understand it in hopes of creating a better future were no one has to fear of finding a loved one in a tree or on the street.
 “Lynching Statistics.” Lynching in America: Statistics, Information, Images. Accessed February 14, 2016. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/shipp/lynchstats.html.
 “The Goal: To Remember Each Jim Crow Killing, From The ’30s On.” NPR. Accessed February 14, 2016. http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/01/03/374564307/the-goal-to-remember-each-jim-crow-killing-from-the-30s-on.
 “Billie Holiday-Strange Fruit.” Youtube. Accessed February 14, 2016.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4ZyuULy9zs
A Man was Lynched Yesterday: http://billmoyers.com/2015/02/11/new-report-lynching-reveals-sinister-legacy-racial-terrorism-america/
Kendrik Lamar preforming at the 2016 Grammy’s: http://gossiponthis.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/kendrick-lamar-grammys-performance. jpg