Home U.S Find a rope, get a tree: That's the sorry history of lynching,...

Find a rope, get a tree: That's the sorry history of lynching, not the justice we need now

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There’s a huge oak tree in the middle of a quiet rural intersection just a mile or so outside of downtown Columbus, Texas. Its branches reach over the roads on all sides. At its base, a state historical marker notes the centennial founding of Colorado County.  

There’s no indication that in November 1935, a year before the marker was placed there, two African American teenagers were taken to the tree by a mob and lynched. In a New York Times article, “Texas Prosecutor Condones Lynching,” the elected official says it was “the expression of the will of the people.” A faded photograph, a ghostly negative taken that night, shows two bodies suspended from what is still known as the Hanging Tree. Benny Mitchell was 16. Ernest Collins was 15.  



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