Good Negroes in Virginia

January 25, 1902


The Planet argues that countless “Negroes” experience unjust convictions while whites face little punishment for brutal crimes.


The Petersburg Index-Appeal in its issue of the 22d instant says:
“The claim that Virginia has a better type of Negro population than other Southern States is not sustained by recent occurrences. Following close on the horrible crime perpetrated by a Negro on a young married woman in a populous part of Lynchburg, and in the open day, comes the report of another outrage near Norfolk on an aged woman by a young Negro. The protection which the vigilance of the authorities in Virginia affords these fiends against swift, summary and sufficient punishment seems to have no deterrent effect on them, if indeed, it is not an encouragement to the indulgence of their brutish passions.”
And we pause to remark that the horrible, inhuman, uncivilized, punishments visited upon the Negroes in the states of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas seem to have no deterrent effect on them, if indeed it is not an encouragement to the indulgence of their brutish passions.
The Index- appeal concludes as follows:
“It is to the credit of the race, however, that the Norfolk rapist was captured by a Negro. This is very much to the credit of the race, for nothing will contribute more to the suppression of the crime than the active cooperation of the respectable colored people against it. Let them not forget that there is always a probability that lynch law will be invoked as a punishment for rape.”
This is gratuitous advice to the colored people who have always discountenanced crime and condemned rape.
If the two cases cited are to be used as a criterion of the race’s proclivities, then the same reasoning should be applied to the more favored white people of the commonwealth.
A white man near Old Point, Va., criminally assaulted his own daughter. He was neither lynched, raped nor punished by the law; but if we mistake not, was released on a technicality.
A white man at Old Point, Va., criminally assaulted an Italian white girl. He was arrested and held by the United States authorities. His life was not offered as a forfeit.
A white man in this city, the agent of a reputable insurance company, criminally assaulted a colored child in Fulton. The matter was “hushed up” and the magistrate released the prisoner.
William O’Boyle (white) murdered Alma Hamilton, (colored). He stamped her to death, killing her unborn child. It was a murder so brutal that a white jury sentenced him to death. He secured a new trial and another white jury sentenced him to death. He made an appeal to Gov. Tyler, who declined to interfere, and he is now making an appeal to Gov. A.J. Montague for a commutation of the death sentence.
Do these crimes indicate the depravity of the white race, or do they indicate the depravity of a portion of mankind?
Is it any more unusual for a colored man to commit a crime than it is for a white man to commit a similar offense?
We beg leave to remark that no crime charged against the Negro has ever exceeded in atrocity some other one perpetrated by a white man.
The Index-appeal is one of the fairest Democratic journals in the state and accordingly will concede that crime knows no color and is confined to no race. It is practically universal.
The law-abiding white and colored people should condemn crime and wage a war upon the depraved and criminal classes regardless of their race, or religion, or previous condition.
Lynching is anarchy and to tolerate it in any case is to invite its operations in all others.
We do not know of a heinous crime as yet committed by a Negro, but what some other Negro was the first to apprehend and betray the alleged guilty party. Lynch-law must go!
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Brooke Royer


“Good Negroes in Virginia,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed February 20, 2024,