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Rape in ChicagoRace, Myth, and the Courts$
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Dawn Rae Flood

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036897

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036897.001.0001

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The Power of Racial Rape Myths after World War II

The Power of Racial Rape Myths after World War II

(p.48) 2. The Power of Racial Rape Myths after World War II
Rape in Chicago

Dawn Rae Flood

University of Illinois Press

This chapter reveals how African American men and their attorneys challenged assumptions about black criminality and forced urban authorities to confront these assumptions during the postwar years, when the civil rights movement expanded nationally. By World War II, instances of lynch mob violence had decreased significantly, but the specter of interracial sexual violence continued to govern trial proceedings, even outside the Jim Crow South. Many Americans continued to believe that black men were sexual predators and likely perpetrators of rape if accused, especially but not exclusively, by white women. Thus, these men specifically asserted that the trial system they faced in Chicago mirrored a Southern system of (in)justice that had not yet fully abandoned lynch-mob violence. Although they were not successful in gaining acquittals, their efforts expand current understandings of racial discrimination and re-imagine the geographic boundaries of the criminalized black male body.

Keywords:   postwar era, African American men, black criminality, trial proceedings, civil rights, interracial sexual violence, racial discrimination, sexual predator, lynch-mob violence, injustice

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