Day 27- How Do We Explain This Kind of Cruelty?


This post contains graphic details.

It’s a story that will once again bring up the dark side of American History and the horribly gruesome slaughter of a (9 months) pregnant, married and mother of two woman named Mary Turner.

Here is how it all began…

From May 17 through May 22, 1918, two counties in Georgia notorious for mass lynchings, took its reputation to a whole new level. After a wealthy white farmer named Hampton Smith, known for being extremely cruel to his workers was found shot and killed, a posse was assembled and an manhunt had begun for the men involved.

One by one, the men were found and hung including Mary’s husband, Hayes Turner who didn’t participate in the killing of Smith, but was an associate of the other workers. Hayes was taken into custody by the sheriff but an angry masked mob of about 40, overtook law enforcement, dragged Hayes into the woods and hung him.

That same say Mary Turner learned about the lynching of her husband, being quite vocal about what she would do if she found out who the men were that had killed him. This angered the mob and the perception was she needed to be taught a lesson.

So that Sunday as she tried to flee, a grief-stricken and terrified Mary was captured and taken to a secluded spot. Here, near Folsom’s Bridge was the tree selected for her execution. What follows are the heinous actions that occurred after Mary’s hanging, all of which was difficult for me to stomach while reading.

When this had been done and while she was yet alive, a knife, evidently one such as is used in splitting hogs, was taken and the woman’s abdomen was cut open, the unborn babe falling from her womb to the ground. The infant, prematurely born, gave two feeble cries and then its head was crushed by a member of the mob with his heel. Hundreds of bullets were then fired into the body of the woman, now mercifully dead, and the work was over. 9

Some might ask why bring up the past, why not accept that terrible things happened that our country is not proud of and leave it at that. Well, it’s because somethings cannot be forgotten and here’s what the Mary Turner Project had to say about bringing up the past:

Some may ask, why bring up “the past” especially these atrocities? “It happened so long ago.” The story of these crimes should be brought up and face them for many reasons. We should bring them up to acknowledge the lives lost, along with the reality that no justice has ever occurred for the victims, their families and so many others affected by these events. We should bring them up because few in the region speak publicly about these events yet wonder why race relations in the area are often so strained. We should bring them up because these events remain one of the most gruesome cases of racism and racial terrorism in this nation’s history, yet they are omitted from the history we teach our children. We should bring them up because Mary Turner’s murder remains one of the most horrific crimes committed against a human being in this nation’s history. And last but not least, we should bring these events up so we can face our collective past in order to see how it might affect the present and the future.

Never forget Mary Turner.





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