Ben White’s Mother

April 21, 1894


A mother pleads to the Governor of Virginia to stay the execution of her son, who is charged with the death of two white women in Manassas, Virginia.


Ben White and James Robinson, the colored youth convicted at Manassas, VA of criminal assault upon two white women were to have been hanged Friday 20th inst.
It will be remembered that Governor O'Farrall upon the application of the sheriff ordered State troops to protect them from lynching.
Monday afternoon upon his return from dinner, Editor Mitchell found a bright skin colored lady, a tiered in black with every indication of trouble upon her countenance Awaiting his arrival. She desired to see him alone, and as [unintelligent]. They live about 2 miles from Manassas and were in very poor circumstances. They're cooking and washing was done outside of their cabin at a fire on the ground. They were not known at Manassas. The colored young men were not guilty of criminal assault, but had entered the house with their consent. Robinson new them, had cut wood there, I had carry Ben White in order to have a good time.
As she related the story she became excited and declared that God would never let them hang those innocent boys. They are in God's hands. She showed a letter from her boy where he stated that he had tried to get the world off his mind, but found it hard to do so. He told of how he had cried over the start of her.
The heartbroken mother, with a look of Untold anguished moved on Easley in her chair, while with tearful eyes she declared her believe in the all wise power of God. My boy was laid off or he never would have gone there. I learn that these women waited 3 weeks before they told it, and as they have promised that money and did not give it to the women, they told it. I asked them why did they open the door for them. They gave no satisfactory answer. They did not make any outcry and they told me that they thought my son was white.
They said they did not intend to have anything done with the boys, but the white people said if they did not, they would have something done with them.
Mr. Mitchell, for two months I have been fighting this case….
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Carlos Serrano


“Ben White’s Mother,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed April 18, 2019,