The Omaha guide. (Omaha, Neb.) 1927-19??, November 30, 1935, CITY EDITION, Page EIGHT, Image 8

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    Borah Is Called
“Assassin” Of Anti
Lynch Bills
NAACTP Sec’ty Writes Idaho
Solon Open Letter; Asks
Rights Champion “What
About States' Wrongs?”
New York, Nov. 30.—Sena
tor William E .Borah of Idaho,
who is being mentioned in
many quarters ns being will
ing to run for President next
year, wa# characterized as the
man who dealt “the assassin’s
blow’ to both the Dyer feder
al anti-l.vnch’ng bill in 1922
and tin* ('ostigan-Wagner anti
lynching bill last M u y in an
open letter to him from Walter
White, secretary of the Nation
al Association for the Ad
vancement of Colored People,
made pub’ic today.
Quoting from Borah ’ s
speech in the Senate May 1—
the speech which is generally
credited w'tli kdling the Costi
gan-Wagner bill—in which the
Idahoan vigorously upheld the
doctrine of states’ rights, the
NAACP secretary writes:
“It is writ enough to talk
about states' rights, but we ask
vou, Senator Borah, to <rain
* *
that legal aiimi of yours, if
you will, on states’ ‘wrongs'
which have been perpetrated
since you dealt the mortal
blow to efforts to stop lynch
ing. S lice May I, 14 persons
have been done to death by
mobs in the United States ”
The NAAC1* letter cites
from the 1935 lynch record
eases where states have failed
to make a move to punish
lynchers and even where 1 a w
enforcement officers mob ac
tion. The complete letter:
44 lion. William E. Borah
United States Senator
[Washington, P. ('.
■“Pear Senator Borah:
“In view of t he numerous
current newspaper reports of
the possibility of your becom
ing a Republican candidate for
President in 1936, and because
you have not yet denied that
the proffer of the nomination
will he unacceptable to you,
we are addressing tii\s open
letter to you on behalf of 12
million American Negroes and
of many white Americans who
are deeply concerned with the
alarming increase in lynchings
in the United States.
•■un may 1st. imp, you de
livered on the floor of the
Senate what is generally con
ceded to have been the death
blow to the chances of passage
at that session of the Congress
of the Cost igan-Wagner anti
lynch'ing bill. Your speech on
that occasion was fundament
ally the same as that which
you delivered in September,
1922, when another filibuster,
led by senators from states
which had the worst lynching
records, succeeded in side
tracking the Dyer nnti-lyneh
ing bill. You, therefore, hold
the somewhat dubious honor
of having been the execution
er of two distinctly hopeful
opportunities to pass federal
legislation which would have
given government aid, ns in
the ease of kidnapping, to
state authorities to stamp out
this obvious evil.
“In your speech on May 1st
you declared, among othei
tldngs, that—‘if this kind ol
bill can he passed and sus
tained by the Supreme Courl
we have utterly annihilated al
State sovereignty; we liav<
broken down State lines com
pletely.’ Later on you dc
dared Tl believe we can only
have a great Federal Union by
having great individual sov
ereign Stats, and that wher
the latter are destroyed we may
have a Republic in name, but
we will no longer have a Re
public in fact—There can be
no such thing as a Federal Re
public unless the States at
home preserve their rights as
sovereign States to the extent
to which the Constitution has
defined them.’
“In the abstract these are
very pretty sentiments. It is
well enough to talk about
states’ 'rights’; but we ask
you, Senator Borah, to train
that legal mind of yours, if
you will, on states’ ‘wrongs’
which have been perpetrated
since you dealt the mortal
blow to efforts to stop lynch
ing. Since May 1st, 14 per
sons have been done to death
by mobs in the United States.
You have talked much and
often about leaving t h e pre
vention of such bestial crimes
and the punishment of lynch
ers to the states. Let us ex
amine concretely how the
states where most of the
lynchings occurred have done
their duty. On July 80th
lOovan Ward, known to be in
I sane, was put to death in open
i daylight in the streets of
Couisluirg, North Carolina, by
i a mob which made no efforts
i to conceal its identity. A few
of the state authorities, we be
lieve with great sincerity, at
tempted to punish the lynch
ers. They were unsuccessful,
i Kven when this Association
sent a white North Carolinian
| to Louisburg and he secured
the names and information
. against, nine of t h e lynchers,
these nine have not even been
arrested, though the (informa
tion concerning them was sup
plied to the North Carolina au
thorities on August 28th.
“Only a few days ago, on
| November 12th. two boys, 15
and 16 years of age .respec
tively, were killed by a mob in
| Colorado County .Texas. In
stead of attempting to uphold
the law which he had taken a
solemn oath to enforce, the
County Attorney openly and
unashamedly d e c 1 a r e d the
lynehings to be ‘the w'dl of the
people’ and he and his other
fellow officials have indicated
in no uncertain terms that they
will do nothing whatever to
punish the mob which has
lynched not only two boys but
the majesty of the law as well.
The utter fallacy of depending
on state action in certain states
was dramatically exposed in
the recent lynching at White
Bluff, Tennessee, on November
4th, where members of the mob
took the deputy sheriff's gun,
used it in putting their victim
to death and then laughingly
returned the weapon to the ac
quiescent officer who is quoted
as remarking ‘they all seem to
be having a good time.’’
iietore me us l write is a
photograph of a lynched fig
ure hanging from a tree in
Florida. The body is that of
the man lynched at Fort Laud
erdale on July 19th. Around
the pendent figure stand 12
persons, 10 of them w e 11
dressed, neat, clean and intel
ligent white girls ranging in
age from 4 to 10 or 11 years.
On the faces of these young
sters, now at their most im
pressionable age, is mirrored
mingled horror, fascination
and excitement.
“I)o you feel proud of your
handiwork, Senator Ilorah?
And does it disturb your cons
cience even to the slightest ex
tent that there is the possibil
ity that had the Costigan-Wag
ner bill been passed last May
this lynching and that of LI
others might not have oc
eurred ,aml irreparable dam
age might not have been done
to the minds and souls of these
children of tender years?
“It w’ill be idle speculation
on the part of yourself, or any
one else to say, as you did on
the floor of the Senate last
May 1st, that you do not
I think a federal bill will stop
lynching. Perhaps it won’t
prevent all lynchings. But if
it materially decreases the
number of these crimes, should
not all decent people give it a
trial ?
“Forget ,if you will, that
most of the victims of lynch
ing mobs belong to a race
which has suffered for three
centuries from slavery and
race prejudice. Ignore the
physical suffering and the an
guish of the victim as he is
stabbed, strangled or slowly
roasted to death. Think in
stead of the great harm that is
done to those who perpetrate
such sadistic crimes and to the
good name and well being of
America. Many Americans to
day are alarmed at the tend
encies toward Fascism being
made manifest in our country.
Negroes today supply most of
the victims of lynching mobs;
but who knows but that on a
bloody tomorrow other Ameri
cans whose skins are white
may not also furnish living
sacrifices to the gods of racial
political or other prejudices?
“Many Negroes, Senator
Borah, live in pivotal states
like Indiana, Missouri, Illinois,
Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio
and other states where Ne
groeg vote and their votes are
counted. In many of these
states the Negro vote holds the
balance of power in any norm
al election. These voters and
others generally, Including
many white Americans, want
to know if you will again in
the coming session of Congress
deal the assassin’s blow to ef
forts for federal legislation
against a crime which has
taken more than five thousand
victims during the last 45
years and for which crimes
there have been convictions in
less than one-half of one per
cent o fthe cases. There are
many Americans, Senator
Borah, who no longer believe
in the sincerity of members of
the Senate who forget states’
rights when such issues as pro
hibition are being discussed
but who wrap about them
selves the mantel of ‘constitu
tionality’ when the lives of
human beings are taken by
lawless mobs.”
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