Inside the New Partnership Between Airbnb and the NAACP

By: Brentin Mock city

The NAACP would like to see more African Americans participating in the Airbnb rental market—is that a good thing?

In 2012, the NAACP lamented in its Opportunity and Diversity Report Card on the hotel industry that “African Americans are … less likely to own, run, or provide goods and services to a lodging property, or be represented on the governing bodies of these corporations.”

Today, a partnership inked between Airbnb and the NAACP seems like a chance to reverse those racial misfortunes. While Airbnb doesn’t turn people into traditional hoteliers, it allows homeowners to run their homes like hotels….

Under the new joint venture, local NAACP chapters will launch grassroots outreach campaigns to educate African-Americans about how to become Airbnb hosts. For every new host that the NAACP brings in, Airbnb will share 20 percent of its revenue from those newcomers with the civil rights organization. The NAACP will also help diversify Airbnb’s company staff and contract supplier base….

The announcement and its rationale raise some questions and concerns. For one, the fact that Airbnb is growing fastest in black communities is not universally seen as a good thing. It’s definitely not viewed that way by many fair housing activists who have been criticizing Airbnb for years, accusing the company of helping reduce potential affordable housing supply. Other activists have accused Airbnb of accelerating gentrification.

But according to NAACP interim president Derrick Johnson, Airbnb actually shields black communities from gentrification….

This is true if you are a homeowner. The most seductive part of Airbnb is the fact that you can turn your home not just into a side-hustle, but a genuine wealth generator. Renting your home through Airbnb for just a few days could be enough to cover one’s mortgage and then some, freeing up day-job income for other investments and luxuries….

“Even if some African-American homeowners and property owners are able to increase their income through Airbnb, it’s not clear that increased access to home sharing through online platforms will counteract the negative effects of inflated home prices.”says Cashauna Hill, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center….

“In New Orleans, the neighborhoods most likely to attract new hosts are the neighborhoods on the edge of gentrification.”

In Johnson’s view, “There are pros and cons to the question of housing development, and always will be. For us, the reason why we see the value of this partnership is because it allows more African-Americans to participate and not lose their homes….

Then there’s a separate concern: Reports of Airbnb hosts discriminating against people of color by refusing to rent to them….

Johnson said this is also what brought Airbnb to NAACP’s table. He explains that one of the top drivers of the racial wealth gap is African-Americans losing their homes and properties, and that alone justifies the Airbnb partnership.

Says Johnson, “What we’ve seen over time are economic gaps increasing between the richest 1 percent and the 99 percent, but for African-Americans it’s even more accelerated. The number one cause for that acceleration is the loss of value in [African-American] homes. We see this as a way to stop that trend and allow individuals to appreciate a growth market around the asset that they currently have. We’re trying to stop the bleeding and that massive loss of wealth in the black community.”


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NAACP -On The Road To Change Part 1 – Civil Rights Organization Evolving To Tackle Modern Challenges


HOUSTON- As African-Americans face evolving issues that are reshaping our community and futures, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) contends it is still relevant, evolving and up to the task to take on the modern struggles.

But in an era when activists quickly organize and mobilize mass demonstrations using social media, the NAACP finds itself struggling to remain on the cutting edge of the social justice movement….

NAACP Interim President & CEO

The NAACP,, named vice chairman of the board of directors Derrick Johnson as interim president and CEO.

Johnson, new interim president and CEO of the NAACP, wasted no time stating his plans and desires for the organization.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and we won’t waste any time getting to it,” he said. “We are facing unprecedented threats to our democracy and we will not be sidelined while our rights are being eroded every day. We remain steadfast and immovable, and stand ready on the front lines of the fight for justice….”

Johnson, Russell and other leaders are going on the road nationwide on a listening tour that will allow opportunities to talk to its local members and figure out what the future of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization should be, he said….

Leon Russell, NAACP National Board Chairman

The group is struggling to figure our how to better respond to the new realities confronting African-Americans without abandoning the principles that made it one of the nation’s leading forces for social change….

The base mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination….

“The modern challenge and question is how do we achieve our goals and objectives and get there collectively,” said Dr. James M. Douglas, president of NAACP Houston Branch. “With many of us spread out and living in many places, there is little cohesion or common ground among us – that is one of the main things we will have to address….”

Douglas said the residential spread has created a whole new set of issues on top of what already exists on the table….


The NAACP was formed partly in response to the continuing horrific practice of lynching and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, the capital of Illinois and resting place of President Abraham Lincoln.

Appalled at the violence that was committed against blacks, a group of white liberals that included Mary White Ovington and Oswald Garrison Villard, both the descendants of abolitionists, William English Walling and Dr. Henry Moscowitz issued a call for a meeting to discuss racial justice….

The NAACP’s principal objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of United States and eliminate race prejudice. The NAACP seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through the democratic processes.

The NAACP established its national office in New York City in 1910 and named a board of directors as well as a president, Moorfield Storey, a white constitutional lawyer and former president of the American Bar Association. The only African American among the organization’s executives, Du Bois was made director of publications and research and in 1910 established the official journal of the NAACP, The Crisis….

Although it was criticized for working exclusively within the system by pursuing legislative and judicial solutions, the NAACP did provide legal representation and aid to members of other protest groups over a sustained period of time. The NAACP even posted bail for hundreds of Freedom Riders in the ‘60s who had traveled to Mississippi to register black voters and challenge Jim Crow policies….

Credit: Library of Congress- Jim Crow Laws

In 2011, the NAACP launched a process to develop its strategic direction and plan, creating a powerful vision for the future, and setting organizational goals that would focus its work for the 21st Century.

It appears to work to rejuventate the base around key focus issues while rallying a new generation of younger members to help engage and prepare the organization to face future challenges…

The true movement lies in the faces–the diverse multiracial army of ordinary women and men from every walk of life, race and class–united to awaken the consciousness of a people and a nation. The NAACP will remain vigilant in its mission….

“These problems are not going to be solved overnight,” Douglas said. “It will be a teaching process as we evolve, but the goal is for every person old and young to understand and know the issues before them and get in the fight and stay until justice is truly secured for all.”






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Efforts by Counties and Towns to Purge Minority Voters From Rolls

SPARTA, Ga. — When the deputy sheriff’s patrol cruiser pulled up beside him as he walked down Broad Street at sunset last August, Martee Flournoy, a 32-year-old black man, was both confused and rattled. He had reason: In this corner of rural Georgia, African-Americans are arrested at a rate far higher than that of whites.

 Downtown Sparta, about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta. The Board of Elections and Registration that oversees Sparta systematically questioned the registrations of more than 180 of its black citizens. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

Downtown Sparta, about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta. The Board of Elections and Registration that oversees Sparta systematically questioned the registrations of more than 180 of its black citizens. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

But the deputy had not come to arrest Mr. Flournoy. Rather, he had come to challenge Mr. Flournoy’s right to vote.

The majority-white Hancock County Board of Elections and Registration was systematically questioning the registrations of more than 180 black Sparta citizens — a fifth of the city’s registered voters — by dispatching deputies with summonses commanding them to appear in person to prove their residence or lose their voting rights. “When I read that letter, I was kind of nervous,” Mr. Flournoy said in an interview. “I didn’t know what to do.”

The board’s aim, a lawsuit later claimed, was to give an edge to white candidates in Sparta’s municipal elections — and that November, a white mayoral candidate won a narrow victory.

 Marion Warren, a Sparta elections official who documented the purges and raised an alarm with voting-rights advocates. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

Marion Warren, a Sparta elections official who documented the purges and raised an alarm with voting-rights advocates. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

“A lot of those people that was challenged probably didn’t vote, even though they weren’t proven to be wrong,” said Marion Warren, a Sparta elections official who documented the purges and raised an alarm with voting-rights advocates. “People just do not understand why a sheriff is coming to their house to bring them a subpoena, especially if they haven’t committed any crime.”

The county attorney, Barry A. Fleming, a Republican state representative, said in an interview that the elections board was only trying to restore order to an electoral process tainted earlier by corruption and incompetence. The lawsuit is overblown, he suggested, because only a fraction of the targeted voters were ultimately scratched from the rolls.

“The allegations that people were denied the right to vote are the opposite of the truth,” he said. “This is probably more about politics and power than race.”

But the purge of Sparta voters is precisely the sort of electoral maneuver that once would have needed Justice Department approval before it could be put in effect. In Georgia and all or part of 14 other states, the 1965 Voting Rights Act required jurisdictions with histories of voter discrimination to receive so-called preclearance before changing the way voter registration and elections were conducted.

Three years ago, the Supreme Court declared the preclearance mandate unconstitutional, saying the blatant discrimination it was meant to prevent was largely a thing of the past.

But since the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling in the voting-rights case, Shelby County v. Holder, critics argue, the blatant efforts to keep minorities from voting have been supplanted by a blizzard of more subtle changes. Most conspicuous have been state efforts like voter ID laws or cutbacks in early voting periods, which critics say disproportionately affect minorities and the poor. Less apparent, but often just as contentious, have been numerous voting changes enacted in counties and towns across the South and elsewhere around the country.

 Martee Flournoy, 32, was one of many black Sparta, Ga., residents whose voter registration was challenged last year. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

Martee Flournoy, 32, was one of many black Sparta, Ga., residents whose voter registration was challenged last year. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

They appear as Republican legislatures and election officials in the South and elsewhere have imposed statewide restrictions on voting that could depress turnout by minorities and other Democrat-leaning groups in a crucial presidential election year. Georgia and North Carolina, two states whose campaigns against so-called voter fraud have been cast by critics as aimed at black voters, could both be contested states in autumn’s presidential election.

Kristen Clarke, the president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a leading voting-rights advocacy group, said that before the Supreme Court’s Shelby County ruling, discriminatory laws and procedures had been blocked by the preclearance provisions.

Now, she said, “We’re seeing widespread proliferation of these laws. And we are left only with the ability to mount slow, costly case-by-case challenges” to their legality….

The local voting changes have often gone unnoticed and unchallenged. A June survey by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund found that governments in six former preclearance states have closed registration or polling places, making it harder for minorities to vote. Local jurisdictions in six more redrew districts or changed election rules in ways that diluted minorities’ votes…..

vote-suppression12But perhaps none of the battles is more striking than the one in Hancock County, about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta, where three in four of the roughly 10,000 residents are black. The racial divide here is deep and prolonged; the white mayor of the county seat, Sparta, made headlines in 1970 after responding to black citizens’ school-desegregation protests by equipping the town’s six-member police force with submachine guns.

By the 1990s, the Justice Department had invoked its preclearance authority to block measures that it said would weaken minority representation on the Sparta City Council, but political control of the county was frequently split. By last year, black politicians ran Sparta, a white majority controlled the Hancock County commission, and a furious contest was underway between black and white slates to control the next Sparta administration.

The five-member Hancock County Board of Elections and Registration was controlled by three white members — the chairwoman, appointed by a local judge, and two members appointed by the Hancock County Republican Committee — one of whom, curiously, is a Democrat. According to documents filed in a federal lawsuit in nearby Macon, the board began taking steps last August that seemed destined to tilt the playing field to the white slate’s advantage.

This Nigger Voted

During Jim Crow, blacks who voted – or tried to vote – were likely to be intimidated, beaten, or worse.

The board first proposed to close all but one of the county’s 10 polling places, a move the N.A.A.C.P. and other minority advocates argued would disenfranchise rural blacks who could not travel long distances to vote. Board members eventually chose to eliminate just one predominantly black precinct. But around the same time, they began to winnow the county’s roll of registered voters, ordering an aide to compare the registrants’ stated addresses with those on their driver’s licenses to spot voters who had moved after registering to vote.

By October, a month before the city election, the board and a private citizen who appears to have worked with its white members had challenged the legality of 187 registered voters in Sparta. The board removed 53 of them, virtually all African-Americans — roughly one of every 20 voters. As a “courtesy,” court papers state, county sheriff’s deputies served summonses on the targeted voters, commanding them to defend themselves at election board meetings.

Some did, and were restored to the rolls. Others reacted differently to a police officer’s knock on their door.

“A lot of voters are actually calling to say they no longer wish to be on the list, so now we have people coming off the list who no longer want to vote,” Tiffany Medlock, the elections supervisor for the Hancock County elections board, told a Macon television reporter in late September. “It’ll probably affect the City of Sparta’s election in a major way….”

Full article here.

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By Us, For Us: The Crucial Role of the Black Press

Griot: Fran Kaplan, EdD

The black press has played a vital role, both in advancing the ideals of American democracy and in supporting African American identity and culture.

Samuel Cornish and John B. Russworm, editors of the first African American newspaper, Freedom's Journal.

Samuel Cornish and John B. Russworm, editors of the first African American newspaper, Freedom’s Journal.

The first newspaper owned and operated by African Americans, Freedom’s Journal, was founded in New York City in 1827 by Reverend Peter Williams, Jr. and other free black men. They appointed community activists Samuel Cornish and John B. Russworm as editors. The goal of Freedom’s Journal was to oppose New York newspapers that demeaned blacks and supported slavery. (New York state’s economy depended on slavery, because its textile mills processed southern cotton, which accounted for half its exports.)

In the first issue of Freedom’s Journal, Cornish and Russwurm declared, “Too long have others spoken for us, too long has the public been deceived by misrepresentations.” Their second objective was to build a common African American identity through “the moral, religious, civil and literary improvement of our race.”

Ida B. Wells

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931) was an African-American journalist, newspaper editor and an early leader in the civil rights movement. She documented lynching in the USA, showing how it was often a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites. Wells was a skilled and persuasive rhetorician, and traveled internationally on lecture tours.

Freedom’s Journal had subscribers in eleven states and Washington D.C., and in Canada, Europe, and Haiti. The paper covered local, national, and international events. The paper also celebrated the achievements of African Americans. Its editorials spoke out against injustice and debated controversial issues such as the resettlement of free blacks from the U.S. in Liberia in West Africa.

This tradition of crusading journalism was continued by black abolitionists like David Walker (An Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World) and Frederick Douglass (North Star). Ida B. Wells, who was born a slave, became one of the first American women to own a newspaper (The Free Speech and Headlight, in Memphis, TN). She also wrote for other newspapers, both black and white-owned. Her investigative pamphlets that analyzed and fought against lynchings and Jim Crow are still used today (Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases and The Red Record).

One of the longest running black newspapers, the California Eagle was founded in 1879 by a former slave, John J. Neimore, for African American migrants arriving from the South. The paper would serve Los Angeles, California, for eighty-five years. Upon Neimore’s death, his employee, Charlotta Bass, bought and ran the paper. Bass was an activist for social justice inside and outside of her newspaper. The pages of the Eagle campaigned for the abolition of enforced segregation though racial covenants, increased participation of African Americans in politics at all levels, and the patronizing of black businesses by blacks as a matter of principle under the slogan “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work.”

Charlotta Bass published the California Eagle in Los Angeles. An ardent worker for human rights, she was the first African American woman as a candidate for US Vice-President.

Charlotta Bass published the California Eagle in Los Angeles. An ardent worker for human rights, she was the first African American woman as a candidate for US Vice-President.

Charlotta Bass also helped found and run such community institutions as Industrial Business Council to fight employment discrimination in such important companies as LA Rapid Transit, Southern Telephone, and the Boulder Dam. She served as co-president of the LA chapter of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, as director of the NAACP’s Youth Movement, and national chair of the Sojourners for Truth and Justice (a black women’s organization that protested racial violence). She was a pioneer of multiracial struggle, fighting for the release of Chicanos (Mexican Americans) convicted of murder by an all-white jury. In 1952, Bass became the first African-American woman to run for Vice President, as a candidate of the Progressive Party.

Racial discrimination in Indiana, Kansas, and Illinois prevented law school graduate Robert S. Abbott from practicing his profession, so in 1905 he founded The Chicago Defender. He built it into the most widely circulated, powerful, and successful black-owned newspaper of all time. Abbott employed talented writers, among them Gwendolyn Brooks, Walter White, and Langston Hughes. When white newspaper distributers refused to circulate The Defender in the South, he created his own clever “underground” network: African-American railroad porters who secretly carried his paper around the county  on trains.

Robert S. AbbottThe paper’s slogan was “American race prejudice must be destroyed.”  Abbott’s other goals included the opening up of trade unions, government jobs, and police forces to African American workers. The Chicago Defender provided firsthand coverage of the series of white race riots known as the Red Summer Riots of 1919. The paper is credited with stimulating the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to northern cities by publishing migrants’ stories, describing the North as a place of prosperity and justice, showing pictures of Chicago, and running classified ads for housing. The Chicago Defender continues to be published today at

Many African American newspapers declined during the late 1950s and 1960s, during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, because white-owned papers had finally began to hire black journalists and compete for black readers. Today you can get a variety of African American news and views on such issues as anti-black violence or reparations from such outspoken journalists as Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Atlantic), Charles Blow (New York Times), and Melissa Harris-Perry (MSNBC) working in “mainstream” media.


A newspaper boy selling the Chicago Defender.

The good news is that the black press is alive and well. It continues to play a crucial role in our racially divided society. Its vital discourse with the public–locally, nationally, and internationally–is conducted through print, broadcast, and online media. Whether they work in black-owned and operated media or in the black perspectives sections of white-owned media, African American journalists offer a corrective balance to how issues and images are commonly represented in white outlets.

Each week America’s Black Holocaust Museum selects articles and broadcasts about current events from the outlets listed below and posts them to our Breaking News blog.


A Very Short List of National Black Press Outlets

Ebony Magazine's print cover, August 8, 2015. Ebony was founded by John H. Johnson and has published continuously since 1945. This monthly magazine reaches 11 million readers. Its digest-sized sister magazine, Jet, is also published by Johnson Publishing Company.

Ebony Magazine’s print cover for August 8, 2015. Ebony was founded by John H. Johnson and has published continuously since 1945. This monthly magazine reaches 11 million readers. Its digest-sized sister magazine, Jet, is also published by Johnson Publishing Company.


Jet Magazine

Ebony (also in print)

Essence (also in print)

In Print

Black News Directory (A listing of dozens of some of the 200+ black publications published in the USA – from the American Legacy Magazine to Hip Hop Weekly.)

National Newspaper Publishers Association (and links to member papers of the NNPA black press in each state)


Black Perspectives Sections within White-Owned/Operated Media

Ethel Payne, known as the First Lady of the Black Press, speaks with a soldier in Vietnam. Payne was a city reporter and later Washington correspondent for the Chicago Defender in the 1950s and '60s. (By Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, HarperCollins)

Ethel Payne, known as the First Lady of the Black Press, speaks with a soldier in Vietnam. Payne was a city reporter and later Washington correspondent for the Chicago Defender in the 1950s and ’60s. (By Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, HarperCollins)

Shadow and Act (on Cinema of the African Diaspora)

Huffington Post Black Voices 

NY Times Black Culture and History section

National Radio:





IreneMorganBlack Press in Milwaukee, Wisconsin





This Day in Black History: Civil Rights Leader Medgar Evers is Born

From the African American Registry

Medgar Evers

Medgar Evers

Medgar Evers was born on this date in 1925 in Decatur, Mississippi. He was an African-American civil rights leader whose assassination for his work as field secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi galvanized the Civil Rights Movement.

As a representative of the NAACP, Evers worked for the most established and in some ways most conservative African-American membership organization. He was, by all accounts, a hardworking, thoughtful, and somewhat quiet man. Yet the work Evers did was groundbreaking, even radical, in that he risked (and eventually lost) his life bringing news of his state’s violent white supremacy to nationwide attention. When Byron De la Beckwith, a white racist, assassinated Evers in his front yard, he became a symbol of the brutality with which the old South resisted the Civil Rights Movement. Raised in a small central Mississippi town, Evers absorbed his parents’ work ethic and strong religious values early in his life. Friends, including his brother, Charles, remember him as a serious child with an air of maturity about him.

Read more about Evers here.

Social Movements and Organizations of the 1960s, 70s and 80s

Griot: Dawson Barrett

Photo and Copy Editor: Fran Kaplan


The 1960s saw an upsurge in civil rights and other organizations promoting freedom and equality for blacks and women.

The 1970s brought a backlash against those movements by well-funded and well-placed organizations of the Right seeking more freedom for corporations and a return to traditional roles for women.

In the 1980’s, hip-hop and punk rock music expressed anger at “The Power” through their lyrics instead of through actions to change laws.


Prominent Civil Rights Movement Organizations:


Other 1960s Era Organizations:


1970s “New Right” Organizations:


1980s Hip-hop / Punk Rock Artists:



Dawson Barrett is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He recently taught a history course on American activism and countercultures in the post-1960s period.





NAACP backs same-sex marriage as civil right

By the

NAACP backs same-sex marriage as civil right

NAACP backs same-sex marriage as civil right

The NAACP passed a resolution Saturday endorsing same-sex marriage as a civil right and opposing any efforts “to codify discrimination or hatred into the law.”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s board voted at a leadership retreat in Miami to back a resolution supporting marriage equality, calling the position consistent with the equal protection provision of the U.S. Constitution.

“The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure political, social and economic equality of all people,” Board Chairwoman Roslyn M. Brock said in a statement. “We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”

Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and the District of Columbia, but 31 states have passed amendments to ban it.

“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people” said NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous, a strong backer of gay rights.

Gay marriage has divided the black community, with many religious leaders opposing it. In California, exit polls showed about 70 percent of blacks opposed same-sex marriage in 2008. In Maryland, black religious leaders helped derail a gay marriage bill last year. But state lawmakers passed a gay marriage bill this year.

Read more of the story here.

Freedom’s Heroes During Jim Crow: Flossie Bailey and the Deeters

Griot: Fran Kaplan, EdD

This exhibit pays tribute to people who fought hatred and injustice in the Jim Crow period. Some of these heros are well-known; others are unsung, ordinary people. Every quarter we will focus on different freedom fighters of this era.

To inaugurate the exhibit, we present three unsung people who opposed the infamous lynching in Marion, Indiana in 1930 that murdered two black teenagers, Abram Smith and Thomas Shipp, and almost killed a third, James Cameron.

Many people have seen the iconic photo of that lynching in which members of the lynch mob and spectators happily celebrate their brutal deed. Unseen are the people-black and white-who publicly opposed and tried to prevent the lynching. Among the most courageous of these was Mrs. Katherine “Flossie” Bailey. And perhaps the most surprising and admirable response to the atrocity came from the parents of Claude Deeter, the young man whose murder was the justification for it.

Mrs. Katherine Bailey1

At the time of the lynching, “Flossie,” as she was known to her friends, was thirty-five years old, the wife of a doctor with a thriving practice, and mother of a son. She was also the president of the Marion branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), the leading civil rights organization in the country at the time.

Under her energetic, committed and expert leadership, the Marion NAACP had grown to almost 100 members by the night of the lynching. The leading black families in town were members; the handful of white members included the town’s mayor and one of its newspaper reporters.

Everyone in town-white and black alike-knew Mrs. Dr. Bailey. Many years after her death, people would still remember her as a “hotrod,” “a born leader,” and “very cultured.” Flossie was warmhearted and kind, a good-looking, stylish woman who always appeared poised. She was an impressive orator, as well as an excellent organizer who daily juggled a myriad of details, phone calls, telegrams, letters, and meetings.

Like many in town, Flossie began to hear about a plan to lynch the jailed suspects early in the afternoon of August 7th, shortly after Claude Deeter died. She began making phone calls and sending telegrams seeking to have the alleged murders moved for their safety to another lock-up away from Grant County. At very least she wanted additional law enforcement protection for the prisoners. She called the county sheriff, who told her not to worry, that he was not aware of any such plan. She called the mayor’s office, but he was away in Indianapolis for the day. She called the governor; he was on a fishing trip in Canada. When she begged his assistant, a Marion native, to send protection, he hung up on her. The lynching would proceed.

But Mrs. Bailey did not give up. Shortly after the lynching, she heard that a white mob was threatening to torch the black section of Marion. While many black residents fled town, Flossie spent the wee hours in her home exchanging telegrams with NAACP leaders, informing them of the situation so they, too, could act. The pressure she brought to bear finally resulted in the arrival of the Indiana National Guard-three days after the atrocity.

Still Flossie did not rest. She demanded that members of the lynch mob be identified and tried. She wrote to the head of the NAACP, Walter White, an expert in lynchings, insisting that he immediately come to Marion to investigate. She provided him with background information and advised the blue-eyed White to pose as a white man, so that he could more easily speak with witnesses of the event.

White found the sheriff to be grossly negligent in his duty and urged the governor and attorney general to prosecute, since the county prosecutor was reluctant to take action, because it might anger and provoke the mob to further violence. White helpfully included with his letter a list of persons that participated in the lynching, according to eyewitnesses he interviewed.

Largely due to Mrs. Bailey’s efforts, two of the lynchers were brought to trial. The all-white, all-male jury found them not guilty. All her life Flossie would feel a sense of failure, because no one was ever punished for the murders of Abe and Tommy. She was, however, instrumental in saving James Cameron from the electric chair, by working with the NAACP to bring two excellent black attorneys from Indianapolis to defend him in court. They were able to convince another white jury that Cameron was only an accessory to Deeter’s murder, resulting in a prison sentence of two to 21 years.

Her work angered segments of the region’s white community. She and her husband received threatening calls and letters. White men drove by her house at night making their cars backfire to sound like gunshots. Nevertheless, following the Marion lynching, Mrs. Bailey organized a grassroots push for an Indiana antilynching statute that would remove from office any sheriff from whose jail a prisoner was lynched; it became law in 1931. This law was instrumental in preventing a subsequent threatened lynching in Marion almost seven years to the day of the 1930 atrocity. Flossie and the NAACP also worked for a proposed federal anti-lynching law-but no such law was ever passed.2

Mrs. Bailey also fought other forms of discrimination, including hospitals that denied treatment to black patients and training to black medical students, and well as school segregation. She and her husband unsuccessfully sued a Marion movie house after they were denied admission due to their skin color.

In addition to coping with the Great Depression and race and gender discrimination, Flossie suffered from bad health. She had a serious heart condition for which she underwent surgery in 1934. Dr. Bailey had a stroke in 1940, closed his practice and died ten years later. In the end, the couple struggled financially and had to accept help from friends. Mrs. Bailey wrote to Walter White that she regretted not being able to do more. This courageous and committed woman passed away at the age of 57 and was buried in Marion.

The Deeters3

Grace and William Deeter farmed 320 acres outside the small town of Fairmont, near Marion. Like many families of their day, they had a phone but no electricity in the house and pumped their water with a windmill. On Saturdays they stopped work early to go to Fairmont or Marion to shop and visit friends; on Sundays the devoutly religious family attended church in Marion.

Claude was the eldest of eight children. He helped his parents farm their land and later also worked for other area farmers. At age 22 he got a Marion factory job. He was good worker, strong and well-liked. In two years he was able to buy a new Chevrolet, which he proudly drove around Grant County.

In August 1930, Claude lost his job to the Great Depression, and his car was to be repossessed. Perhaps seeking solace, on the night of August 6th he drove out to the Lover’s Lane along the river with 19 year-old Mary Ball. It was there that he was shot in the apparent armed robbery attempt that led to the lynching in Marion.

Adhering to their religious beliefs, the Deeters asked their son to forgive his attackers before he died, so that he would not meet his Lord with hatred in his heart. Though initially reluctant, Claude forgave them before he expired.

As he drew his last breath, someone hung Claude’s blood-stained shirt from the window of the police station, presumably to incite the fury of the town’s citizens. Grace Deeter, on the other hand, moved immediately for reconciliation. That day, while in the deepest of grief herself, she called upon the mothers of Abram Smith and Thomas Shipp to convey Claude’s forgiveness and that of her whole family.

According to the Deeters, Grace and her sister tried to get the Marion newspaper to publish Claude’s account of the attack, which refuted Mary Ball’s initial claim of rape, but the newspaper did not print his story. Nor did the paper report Will and Grace’s opposition to the lynching; that was left to a paper in another town. Plans for the lynching were already laid. The facts of the crime were now irrelevant, and the victim’s family would have no say in the swift execution of the illegal sentence.

Mary came to the Deeters during Claude’s wake and announced that she and Claude had planned to be married. The Deeter family was a close one, but their eldest son had never mentioned the relationship, much less marriage plans, to anyone. Nevertheless, the Deeters welcomed this unknown fiancée and gave in to her request to take Claude’s bloody tie as a keepsake.


  1. Sources: James Madison, A Lynching in the Heartland: Race and Memory in America (New York: Pelgrave Macmillan, 2001) and Barbara Stevenson, An African-American Oral History of Grant County (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.:Arcadia Publishing, 1999).
  2. In 2005 eighty Senators finally signed a resolution apologizing for not outlawing lynching.
  3. Sources: Madison (2001); Cynthia Carr, Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2006); Hartford City News, Hartford City IN, August 8, 1930; author’s interview with Carl Deeter, Jr., nephew of Claude Deeter, October 2006.

Dr. Kaplan is Coordinator of the America’s Black Holocaust Virtual Museum. An independent scholar, Kaplan has produced more than forty written publications and videos in two languages and an awardwinning feature film in distribution. She has also co-authored an awardwinning screenplay, Fruit of the Tree, based on the life of James Cameron, and is currently working on a scholarly edition of his memoir, A Time of Terror.