A White Lady Speaks Again

April 7, 1900

Summary

A white lady acts as an “advocate of justice” by providing examples of past wrong convictions of black people.

Transcription

A White Lady Speaks Again
The Conviction of Benjamin-The Boy in Alexandria
A Pathetic Statement-The Sufferings of the Colored People-A Telling Plea by this Advocate of Justice.
Mr. Editor:
The account you give of the trial and conviction of Frank Benjamin for alleged criminal assault on a white woman at Hampton, Virginia, calls to mind a similar case, that of the colored boy, Albert Hawkins, who, in 1895, was convicted and sentenced to be hung for an attempted criminal assault on a little school girl. I remember well the face of this boy who after escaping the fury of the mob, was safely lodged in a dark cell in the jail at Alexandria. I visited him a few hours after he was placed there and was surprised to find, not a man with the face of a demon as the daily papers pictured him to be, but an apparently harmless boy of fifteen years of age. I spent six days in Virginia including the time I was at the trial, investigating the case. I privately questioned the witnesses for the defense, including the little girl herself, and I failed to find any evidence whatever that there had been any attempt at rape. Neither was her dress torn nor was she rescued by her brother-in-law.
The girl denied being injured in any way. The story told in the papers was almost wholly false from beginning to end. But there were persons of my own race who thirated for his blood. They were to be seen both outside and inside the court room.
It would be impossible to give a correct idea of the hatred manifested toward that poor boy during the trial. All the evidence brought out in the trial to prove his innocence went for nothing. According to the law of Virginia he must die; and so the sentence of death was passed upon him not forty-eight hours after the alleged crime was committed.
As many will remember the boy was granted a new trial which resulted in his being sent to the penitentiary for eighteen years. His name still helps to swell the list of “colored boys and girls,” said to be three thousand “confined in the prison of Virginia and compelled to associate with the vilest and most degraded adults.” When Frank Benjamin is hung his name will undoubtedly, add one more to the list of judicial murders. As you know, under existing conditions the whites alone are responsible for every such murder, whether it be committed under the civil law or under lynch law.
As I picked up the Monday morning paper of March 19th my eyes fell on these words, Lynching of John Bailey. Then followed a sickening account of the work of a mob in Marietta, Georgia. The victim of their wrath was a Negro accused of a criminal assault on a white woman the Thursday previous. The Negro was forcibly taken from the jail “to the centre of the court house yard in the heart of the city, and fifty shots fired at him, leaving him for dead on the spot where he fell. He died later that day.”
Although particulars were given of the lyching of this man, who had received no trial, no allusion whatever was made to the sufferings he endured from one o’clock Sunday morning until “later in the day” when death came to his relief.
With a heart too sick to find expression in words I turned to the page containing the reports of sermons; and there, sandwiched in between two sermons was this. A Young Negro Lynched. Then followed another sickening account of the lynching of another colored man for attempted criminal assault ona white girl in Alabama. He too was shot to death on Sunday by “a crowd of white men” whose thirst for blood, impelled them to send this unfortunate man, without even the shadow of a trial, into the presence of his Maker.
About this article

Location on Page

Upper Right Quadrant

Contributed By

Elizabeth Lopez-Lopez

Citation

“A White Lady Speaks Again ,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed December 9, 2022, https://blackvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1232.