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Graphic NewsHow Sensational Images Transformed Nineteenth-Century Journalism$
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Amanda Frisken

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042980

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042980.001.0001

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“A Song without Words”

“A Song without Words”

Anti-Lynching Imagery as Visual Protest in the 1890s Black Press

(p.123) Chapter 4 “A Song without Words”
Graphic News

Amanda Frisken

University of Illinois Press

This chapter documents how activists with access to print publications might develop counternarratives to dominant stereotypes. In response to racist representations, artists for African American newspapers, such as Henry J. Lewis and Moses Tucker for the Indianapolis Freeman, developed an anti-lynching critique. Along with editors for other papers, such as John Mitchell for the RichmondPlanet, Harry Smith for the ClevelandGazette, and Benjamin Pelham (and others) for the DetroitPlaindealer, they challenged the lynching epidemic with powerful images. Their allegorical interpretive illustrations reconfigured mainstream lynching imagery, to discredit the prevailing rape/lynching narrative and mobilize resistance to racial violence. Their anti-lynching iconography helped to raise consciousness and spark action within the African American community, and suggests sensationalism’s potential as a mobilizing tool.

Keywords:   Indianapolis Freeman, Detroit Plaindealer, Cleveland Gazette, Richmond Planet, Henry J. Lewis, Moses Tucker, Harry Smith, John Mitchell Jr., Benjamin Pelham, anti-lynching imagery, lynching

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