Photo credits: The Equal Justice Institute
On December 27, 1919, in Franklinton, North Carolina (NC), a raging mob of racist U.S.-born white monsters massacred a black army veteran named Powell Green.
Prior to his unspeakably gruesome death, Green was falsely arrested on suspicion of murdering a “prominent” white movie theater owner. During the Jim Crow era of racial terror, white claims against Black people were seldom investigated. They often ended in violent reprisal—even when no evidence tied the accused blacks to any crimes at all.
Countless African Americans were murdered throughout the South in the early 20th century. Mere and unfounded claims of black-on-white violence prompted massive amounts of violence. Like wild packs of rabid dogs, these volunteer race soldiers struck first before the justice system could ever act.
First, Green was forcibly kidnapped by the bloodthirsty heathens who took his life. He was snatched while heading to Raliegh, North Carolina. Green’s abduction and cold-blooded murder also occurred before he could appear in court–or prepare a defense to clear his wrongly implicated name.
On the last day of his short life, Green was beaten, then handcuffed to a pickup by his captors. He was then dragged along the road as one of his killers drove at a high speed. Green’s body was skidded bloodily against the gravel road for one half-mile. But these animals were not yet through with Green.
They pulled out guns and shot him several hundred times. Then, they tied a noose around Green’s neck. After the lynching, Green’s killers left his mutilated corpse hanging in a pine tree.
Hordes of all-white lynch mobs often kidnapped their victims from jails and prisons. They stormed courtrooms and even forced them from the hands of police. Despite being armed and tasked with the protection of the men and women in their custody, police seldom utilized force.
They took no authoritative actions to prevent white lynch mobs from killing Black people. In some instances, police personnel had been shown to be either complicit or active participants in lynchings.
Such an instance was the scenario in the case of the lynching of Powell Green, according to newspaper sources, Despite the presence of five officers in the police van transporting Mr. Green, he was “taken from the vehicle [by the raging crowd] without the slightest difficulty.”
Green’s mangled corpse was located two miles outside of Franklinton the next morning. It was severely riddled with bullets. According to press accounts, “souvenir hunters” reportedly removed shirt buttons and other fragments of clothing from Green’s corpse. The sadistic necrophiles would then chop down the tree in order to create horrific mementos of death.
Mr. Green served in the army during World War I. He was just 23 years of age at the time of his fatal lynching.
“It seemed as if he remained self-confident and strong,” said one news reporter who gave his account of Mr. Green’s demeanor before getting murdered.
Rather than being respected for their valor, white supremacists savaged black veterans. They massacred black veterans as they were returning from war during these acts of racial terrorism.
The cowardly U.S.-based Caucasians who supported the Jim Crow system were fearful. They thought military service would elevate black men to positions of leadership in their community. The primitive-minded whites who thought that way never wanted to see blacks as societal equals.
Powell Green’s December 1919 lynching was Franklin County, NC’s second in five months.