“Reckless Eyeballing”: The Matt Ingram Case

3 Posted by - September 8, 2021 - Black History, BLACK MEN, CIVIL RIGHTS, History, Injustices, LATEST POSTS

Matt Ingram was accused of “reckless eyeballing,” (the improper looking at a white person, with sexual intent). He was one of the last African Americans convicted under this law. The case became well-known by civil rights activist in North Carolina.

Ingram was a black tenant farmer leaving in Yanceyville, North Carolina. He was married and had nine children with his wife.

Willa Jean Bosewell, a seventeen-year-old testified in court that her neighbor, Ingram scared her when he looked at her from a distance of about 75 feet. After the alleged incident, the community was in an uproar and prosecutors demanded that Ingram is convicted of assault with intentions to rape which was later reduced to an assault on a female by the judge, which he would end up serving two and half years in prison.

Ingram was defended by Ernest Frederick Upchurch, who was a white lawyer.  At the appeal in Superior Court, the judge instructed the jury that Ingram was guilty if he used “intentional threats or menace of violence such as looking at a person in a leering manner, that is, in some sort of sly or threatening or suggestive manner…he causes another to reasonably apprehend imminent danger”

The all-white jury returned a conviction, leading to a six-month sentence of labor on the roads, suspended for five years.

The NAACP quickly got involved and Black media newspapers strongly carried the case. Due to the pressure the state supreme court vacated the conviction because: “it cannot be said that a pedestrian may be assaulted by a look, however frightening, from a person riding in an automobile some distance away. He may have looked with lustful eyes but there was the absence of any overt act.” The look alone no longer represented grounds for conviction.
Unfortunately, Ingram spent over two years of his life in prison awaiting three trials that took two years too long to resolve.


[State v. Ingram, 74 S.E.2d 532 (N.C. 1953]


  • Phil Fixico June 15, 2018 - 10:09 am


    A lady (East Indian lady 40 yards away from me smiled at me first, while I was wearing a Buffalo Soldier’s uniform at a parade. I smiled back and I took a double take wondering if someone from India knew about the Buffalo Soldiers. The whole exchange (her smile, my smile my double take) only took about 12 seconds as she immediately walked off and reported me to the police . Then a very uncomfortable investigation began . Thanks for posting this story. Honor and respect, Trooper Phil Fixico P.S. what hurt was the fact that other black people began clowning me.

    • Susan K Brandon July 6, 2018 - 4:39 pm

      And if you hadn’t smiled she might have thought you were “menacing”…

    • Phil fixico December 28, 2020 - 9:53 pm

      Today is 12/28/20 and i still remember the whole incident. However, I have witnessed a whole series of what’s called “Karen”. This is where a dominant culture female sends a False report to the Police about being menaced by a Black Man . Now, I don’t take it personally anymore. The world is full of good people and a few have Sick Agendas. It was uncomfortable and emarassing during the Police investgation , but i don’t blame the people who were innocently sucked into hating on me. What on earth could I do to intimidate her with hundreds of people inches and feet away.

  • nanci June 15, 2018 - 11:16 am

    that was some real bull shit what they did to black people back then, how on earth this white woman could see from 75 yards away what the man was looking at, and what if that how his features were. Then he had to go to prison for that. The white woman was a liar, those lies is what caused homes to be burnt down in black neighborhoods, and black people to be hanged. When a white woman tell a lie on you . The woman that got the kid from chicago killed and thrown in a river, she came out years later to say, she lied, but the boy was already dead about 50 years ago, and was tortured by KKK members

    • Duane Matthews June 16, 2018 - 3:42 am

      Yep, so true.
      It was a way to keep black people in servitude, in bondage mentally and psychologically.
      That’s why we are so angry, indignant and just don’t want to listen to anyone who is in authority today.
      We don’t trust them.
      Unfortunately, most of the authority happens to still be white.
      So an uncontrollable anti-authority mentality of distrust is in the hearts and minds of black people towards white authority.
      Hence, crime or alleged criminal acta are substantial from the black communities and that’s why we have a problem obeying the law, and clash with cops so much.
      We don’t believe the law holders or the upholders of the law because they are so crooked, so vile, that we unconsciously disobey them and wind up getting hurt, maimed, or killed in the process. Smh..
      I have to concentrate when faced with authority because I know this mental aspect is in me as well and I have to fight it all the time.
      Thank GOD I have JESUS to run to in times like these because many black people don’t and lose their lives resisting authority.

  • Phil Fixico June 15, 2018 - 11:44 am

    One way I think started these incidents was if a dominant culture WIFE was ever bored with being ignored by her husband all she had to say was : “that Black guy is paying me more attention than you are”! That’s all was required for an innocent man to be lynched !

  • J. korbyn June 15, 2018 - 12:41 pm

    I love this website but sometimes I wonder why I even bother. Articles such as this stir up hatred within me and I want so desperately to become a better person. I just hate the way white people treat Blacks.

  • Kurt Gray June 15, 2018 - 6:58 pm

    White people hate themselves, they see Black People as an image of themselves, kinda mirror like, If you notice we are a mirrored example of them, we wear their name our women try to look like them. Now they can hate you without hurting themselves.

    • Duane Matthews June 16, 2018 - 3:52 am

      Jewish people make sure that everyone remembers the Holocaust and the atrocities that we’re done to them.
      The dislike that you endure at the hands of the articles is actually an ingrained denial of what happened to is many years ago and is still subliminally in black people now.
      We can’t ignore what was done to us.
      Coincidentally, the things that have happened to black people, individuals always want to sweep them under a rug and “let’s just move on and forget about it.”
      Nope, so many black people suffer today because of the evil done then.
      So much can be explained why we are today, what happened then.
      These cases will she’d some light on the mental state of black people, and actually can start to bring the light to everyone why we are they way we are, which then could lead to solutions, which could then lead to repair, which then could lead to healing and sound minds between the races, which could lead to compromise, care, and cordial tidings for all.
      However, it takes courage to face these things in order to get it started.
      The answer is who had the courage to fight hate inwardly and outwardly to bring peace to all? woah..

  • Duane Matthews June 16, 2018 - 3:29 am

    Sad, sad, sad. Racist white people back then we’re the real savages.
    So many judges, lawyers, juries, police – all had that savage, evil, detestable spirit.
    Yes they got rid of that law but nowadays they still carry out modern day lynchings, but we can’t see it.
    Bill Cosby, for one, I believe is one of them.
    Black man, just like this black farmer, with money, suspected of doing something to a white woman, without no real viable or solid facts, arrested, tried and life wasted behind bars.
    What a tragedy.
    All of those evil, racist individuals will have to answer to GOD one day – if they haven’t already – especially that lying white woman – infact, all of those lying white women. Smh..

  • Lindsley Ghee June 16, 2018 - 7:17 am

    There is a radio personality named Jesse Lee Petersen who claims, and advocates that there is no such thing as white racism. Yes, this is a so called Black man.
    If this was not Jim Crow systemic racism, which is still here today, how would he have been convicted and separated from his family for two years. Absolutely disgusting!!!!

  • Kim Dickerson June 16, 2018 - 7:58 am

    I’m curious to know what date this particular incident took place…
    We as Black people suffer from Generation PTSD – white America has been managing our disease with morsels of “justice meds” & “propaganda therapy”, never curing the ailment!!!

  • Lindsley Ghee June 16, 2018 - 8:49 am

    This is nothing new. There is a saying, “ Those who do not learn from the lessons of history, are doomed to repeat it!” If you know anything about the destruction of ancient Israel, and the final destruction in 70 a.d. by the Romans, it is easy to surmise this hatred for people of color, is certainly nothing new. This behavior is intrinsic, and when resources are at stake, or political hierarchy, you will see the true nature of the beast. We “Blacks” have not learned that everyone will not, and should not be embraced.

  • Robert Monroe, Jr. June 16, 2018 - 4:18 pm

    White women have always been the major supporters of white supremacy. Back then, it was false accusations of sexual assault & “wreckless eyeballing”…today, it’s Becky with a cell phone calling the cops on Black people for BS reasons like BBQ’ing or napping in a dorm common area.

  • TC June 17, 2018 - 11:00 pm

    “BlackThen” should be “BlackStill”..
    NEVER forget it, even if and when you try. WE are reminded daily whether negatively or positively. The negatives although still hurtful, are a bit easier because they are constant, doled out, dished out, implied…a ‘natural daily occurrence.
    The positives are worse, harder, many/most insulting, painfully unbelievable. I’m speaking of intelligent, educated, skilled, qualified, most times over qualified Blacks that get a ‘position’ or as we say ‘ has arrived’ or achieved recognition. Its Guaranteed when compared to other ‘equals, a Black man or woman MUST be much smarter, has worked harder, longer, has better grades, degrees, socialization skills, training, loyalty..basically a lone super star who probably must stay alone and guarded to continue to walk on water! Keep the job/position.
    ALWAYS the better person..the better MAN. Why the Survival Game, living/staying in line, in fear. This is LIFE??? Sick and tired! WE ARE the Greatest, we are Royalty,.KINGS and QUEENS.
    Compassionate, Considerate HUMAN BEINGS ALL.
    HURT & Beyond Concerned!….TC

  • phil fixico June 18, 2018 - 1:00 am

    “TC” , Thank you so much , for your much appreciated comment . Not only did you expound on the subject, you also gave a real solution for the present and the future, Honor and Respect,

  • Tico June 22, 2018 - 1:00 pm

    I was with you 100% up until the Jesus part…who gave you Jesus? Be more critical. Dig deeper to honor your ancestors…pierce the facade….breathe…the answer is there

  • Phil Fixico July 6, 2018 - 6:14 pm

    Greetings Susan, Thank you so much for your comment. I was in a Buffalo Soldier dress uniform and it would have been very strange for me to not acknowledge her smile, which I did but her smile was so expansive, that it made me take a second look wondering why a lady from India (?) would be interested in someone in the Buffalo Soldiers. When I took a second look, she nod her head and immediately reported me to the authorities. The whole exchange took approximately 12 seconds. I found out later that she was accompaning someone “in the community”. I guess back in the day in the South a bored wife could get attention by telling her husband : “That Black Guy is paying more attention to me than you are”. Of course, woman like this didn’t care what happened to the accused. In my case once the word spread through the crowd I was only overly scrutinized and CLOWNED but it still was not a good feeling. Honor and Respect, Trooper Fixico

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  • Cynthia gourdine July 10, 2018 - 7:57 pm

    The world is so full sickness and that sickness is being implanted in children.

  • Phil Fixico July 10, 2018 - 8:54 pm

    Sad but true…

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    • Phil fixico April 19, 2020 - 4:49 pm

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting . I apologize for not getting back sooner. What happened to me on that day was very humiliating. It stays with me until this day . There is so much more to tell. Honor and Respect Trooper Phil Fixico