Lynchings Reconstruction: At least 2000 more black people were lynched.
After the 15th amendment gave freedmen in Eufaula the right to vote, the city’s new Black electorate used their majority to elect a white pro-Reconstruction candidate as city court judge in 1870. When they attempted to re-elect him four years later, the city’s white residents waged a terror campaign.
As hundreds of Black citizens gathered in town to vote, they were met by police who arrested some on sight and jailed them under accusations of fraud. A group of white men forced one Black man into an alley and threatened to arrest him if he refused to vote against his own interests.
While Black onlookers protested, a shot was fired into the air. Shortly after, a large mob of white men returned with guns, spreading out over the street and perching in windows where they blanketed the crowd of Black voters with bullets.
Six Black people were killed, and more than 80 injured. About 500 voters fled the scene before casting a ballot.
When a Black man named Hilliard Miles identified some of the white mob’s attackers, he was charged and convicted of perjury. One of the perpetrators he identified was Braxton Bragg Comer, a man who would later become the 33rd governor of Alabama.
The Eufaula massacre and many others revealed in a new report released today by the Equal Justice Initiative, detail for the first time how racial terror lynchings and assaults on newly freed men, women and children following the Civil War during the period of Reconstruction between 1865 and 1876 were used to intimidate, coerce and control Black communities with the impunity of local, state and federal officials — a legacy that has once again boiled over, as nationwide protests sparked by multiple police killings and extrajudicial violence against Black Americans call for an end to centuries of hostility and persecution.
“We cannot understand our present moment without recognizing the lasting damage caused by allowing white supremacy and racial hierarchy to prevail during Reconstruction,” EJI’s Director Bryan Stevenson said in a statement.
While Reconstruction’s emergence was a time of great hope and promise for African Americans, it was a daily reminder to their former white captors of loss and destruction.