Letter to the Editor: Delaware and race

Delaware is in many ways a microcosm of America’s racial issues. We have had great abolitionists and horrible racists, and everything in between, and must face and deal with all. We have also had two lynchings, and they also cover that notorious and revealing spectrum.

One lynching was perpetrated in northern, urban Wilmington; the other in a southern, rural setting — Leipsic. The Wilmington lynching was done in 1903 in almost a community carnival atmosphere; the other — in 1867 — was a lonely murder, committed at night on a deserted, country road.

The Wilmington murder was counted as an “officially recognized lynching by the “Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).” The EJI has uncovered over 500 previously uncounted lynching, but overlooked the incident in Leipsic. Both murders reveal the failures of the rule of law — but in different ways — both together are a stain on our nations’ history.

The lynching in Leipsic occurred during an era of hope; the nation passed the 13th, 14th and 15 amendments, and the U.S. Army fought the Klan.

The lynching in Wilmington in 1903 occurred in a far different era, where racism was endemic and was virtually “accepted”. While African-Americans remained the main victims, Chinese, Italians and others were also murdered under similar circumstances. Pogroms against Jews, colonial atrocities against natives etc.,. during the same era were a world-wide phenomena.

Larry Koch

A program on the two Delaware lynchings described in this article is being held by the Dover Library’s History Book Club on Thursday, Feb, 21 at 4 p.m.. For a copy of our newsletter or with any questions, please contact Larry Koch at 335-8344, larry.koch.2008@comcast .net.

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