Blood Justice: The Lynching of Mack Charles Parker

By Howard Smead | Go to book overview

5
A Small Town in Mississippi

Had anyone in Poplarville, including Petey Carver and his cousin B. F. Orr, 1 chosen to speak up against the lynching before it occurred or to stop the mob from entering the jail, Parker would have lived and the townspeople would not have been faced with a painful dilemma in the days that followed. People with knowledge of the lynching tried to adhere to the tradition of silence in an effort to stay out of the investigation. But the spectacular nature of the crime and the strong federal involvement meant that a mere shrug of the shoulders would not settle the matter. This state of affairs alone underscored the anachronistic nature of the lynching. The younger elements of the community had had a limited hand in the crime. Older elements with a stronger affinity for the tactics of the past designed, planned, and carried out the lynching. In that respect the members of the lynch mob represented the vestiges of the old tradition of vigilante-enforced racial oppression. 2

Fear played an important role in keeping people quiet. As events during the week after the lynching proved, even whites felt they were not safe from mob members, who having struck once might with provocation strike again. Although the wife of the mayor feared black retaliation against innocent whites, she

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