Do you recognize that name? Probably not, even though it is a very common name. Seeing how this is the end of Black History month, I have one final story to bring you tonight and it is about Mary Turner.
Millions of people find it hard to believe that Black women were lynched in the United States. Yes, the majority of lynched Black Americans were male, but there were also Black females who were lynched as well. Like most lynchings that took place in America, they were unfounded and baseless. Yet, thousands upon thousands of innocent Black males and females were lynched without any interference or assistance from law enforcement. How sad and disturbing.
Mary Turner was a pregnant twenty-one year old woman who was lynched in Georgia on May 19,1918. Why was she lynched? Because she spoke out about her husband who was wrongfully lynched the day before. When word reached Mary Turner that the same lynch mob that lynched her husband were planning to come after her, she attempted to flee. Sadly, even though she had fled, the lynch mob had caught up to her. What happened next is enough to break your heart and make your eyes well up with tears.
When the mob reached Mary Turner, she was dragged and forced to the bank in Brooks County Georgia near the Folsom Bridge. There she was hung upside down by her ankles, doused with gasoline and lit on fire. As she cried and screamed, her belly was gutted and sliced open with a knife that was used to slaughter hogs. The eight month old baby she was carrying fell to ground and was only able to let out two whimpers before it’s head was stomped on and crushed. Shortly after that, Mary Turner was shot over a hundred times.
Mary Turner’s charred and bullet ridden body was then cut down and tossed in a shallow grave with her deceased baby. The only thing that marked their grave was a whiskey bottle. When I read stories and watch documentaries such as this, I find it hard to believe how someone could do this to another human being just because of the color of their skin. I cannot imagine the fear and frustration that consumed so many Black Americans back then, yet so many endured it.
Mary Turner, like so many other Black Americans, lost her life for speaking out against what she knew was not right. Was that a valid reason to take her life and that of her child? Of course not.
Until next time…