Explore the Printing Hate lynching coverage database

Using computational historical research methods, the Howard Center analyzed more than 40,000 scanned newspaper pages to identify and classify problematic historical coverage of racial terror lynchings by white-owned newspapers. All of the papers in the database, which we expect to continue updating, were still published in some form when they were added to the database.

Billie Holiday v. The White Press

Holiday premiered “Strange Fruit” in 1939, at the height of Jim Crow, the laws that enforced racial separation in America from 1877 to the mid-1960s.

Our new database expands the scope of ‘Printing Hate’

The new database \includes historic examples from nearly 70 additional newspapers that featured racist and harmful coverage of the deaths of a lynching victim in their local coverage. All of the papers in the database are still published today in some form.

The Arkansas racial massacre almost no one remembers

The racial terror in St. Charles occurred 15 years before the Red Summer of 1919, when racial violence took place in dozens of American cities, including near Elaine, Arkansas, just 30 miles from St. Charles in Phillips County. Aside from incomplete newspaper coverage at the time and a few articles in historical journals, the St. Charles Massacre of 1904 is little known in Arkansas.

A hall-of-fame Maryland editor ‘published racist viewpoints with pride’

Edward J. Clarke, a 1954 inductee into the Hall, was owner, publisher and editor of the Worcester Democrat, a weekly on Maryland’s largely rural Eastern Shore. In 1940, an unsigned, front-page commentary called for the lynchings of five Black suspects in the murder of a white farmer and the robbery and assault of his wife. Clarke, as editor and publisher, bore responsibility for publishing the piece.

News coverage of lynchings of Mexicans, Asians and Native Americans followed established patterns

Between 1865 and 1965, there were approximately 200 lynchings of Mexicans, Asians and Native Americans in the U.S., according to an analysis by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism of the Beck-Tolnay inventory of Southern Lynch Victims and the Seguin-Rigby National Data Set of Lynchings in the United States. Other researchers say this may represent a significant undercount of lynchings of Mexicans.

AP spread racist Jim Crow-era coverage to a national audience

The AP, along with its member papers, reported in depth on extra-judicial killings by racist, white mobs throughout the late 1800s and 1900s.

The lynching of Willie Earle prompted a trial, but no convictions

Black-owned newspapers were encouraged by the swift round-up and hopeful for a reckoning long overdue.

How a 1919 massacre tore Elaine, Arkansas, apart

Historians say the massacre claimed five white lives and more than 200 Black lives, though the true number of Black deaths is unknown and some estimates put it much higher.

History focuses on men, but Black women were lynched, too

Between 1865 and 1965, there were nearly 5,000 racial terror lynchings of Black people, according to a Howard Center analysis of the Beck-Tolnay inventory of Southern Lynch Victims and the Seguin-Rigby National Data Set of Lynchings in the United States. Approximately 120 of those victims — about 3% — were Black women.

A pregnant woman’s lynching resonates through generations

Mary Turner was one of at least 11 victims in Georgia’s Lowndes and Brooks counties during what became known as the Lynching Rampage of 1918.

Newspapers falsely reported Slocum Massacre as a race revolt

The violence, known as the Slocum Massacre, was incited by a rumored uprising that never happened.

Annapolis confronts a legacy of lynchings and racial terror

The city of Annapolis — and its newspaper, The Capital — have embraced the need for accountability in facing its murderous and bigoted past.

Atlanta newspapers’ white supremacy fueled 1906 race massacre

In 1906, two of Atlanta’s most prominent newspapermen committed an act that many of today’s journalists would consider a sin.

Newspapers called Tallahassee lynching victims animals, insane

The language used in news coverage of lynchings often sought to justify the deaths of Black victims to white readers.

Kentucky newspapers often blamed Black victims for lynchings

Kentucky newspapers contributed to a climate of terror by calling the victims bad negroes, “barbaric” or lazy and promiscuous.

Columbus, Mississippi, newspapers were not innocent bystanders to racist violence

Lynchings, were a form of racial terror, said historian Elijah Gaddis, an assistant professor of history at Auburn University. No state used the tactic more than Mississippi.

Yazoo City’s newspaper provided a forum for its pro-lynching readership

The Yazoo City Herald, a white-owned newspaper, covered lynchings, sometimes delivering inconsistent or problematic reporting.

Massive public lynchings of Black men were nurtured by Waco, Texas, newspapers

In Waco, Texas, up to 15,000 white men, women and children, elected officials and law enforcement would gather to watch public lynchings of Black men.

Anti-lynching laws have not passed Congress in 130 years

In January 1900, George Henry White, the only Black man within the U.S. House, proposed a bill to ban lynching. During his speech, he was interrupted and the bill never went past the House Judiciary Committee.

Newspapers printed hate for scores of years, leading to racist violence

Over several decades, hundreds of white-owned newspapers across the U.S. fueled racist hate crimes against Black Americans.

In the 1880s, election fraud and a massacre stopped Black progress

White supremacists and newspapers conspired to take down a progressive, integrated party in Danville, Virginia.

Printing Hate: How white-owned newspapers incited racial terror in America

Newspapers across the country printed stories that incited hate-fueled acts of terror against Black Americans including lynchings and massacres.

Pushed too far: Overexertion has claimed lives of 22 Division I football players since 2000

Some experts say football players are still at risk and coaches need to be held accountable for dangerous workouts and training sessions.

Trabajadores migrantes que procesan marisco en Estados Unidos desprotegidos durante la pandemia de COVID-19

Migrant seafood-processing workers, who are legally hired and transported to the U.S. each season through the federal H-2B visa program, face heightened risks of catching COVID-19.

US deems migrant seafood workers ‘essential’ but limits their COVID-19 protections

Migrant seafood-processing workers, who are legally hired and transported to the U.S. each season through the federal H-2B visa program, face heightened risks of catching COVID-19.

Podcast: Airport workers faced COVID risks as airlines advertised passenger safety measures

Conversations about the safety of air travel have largely left airport workers out. The choice of whether or not to fly in a pandemic is a question of community safety and how the decision affects people with the least protection. Meet some of them in the Howard Center podcast In The Air.

At least 9,000 Arkansas workers caught COVID-19 as pandemic overwhelmed regulators, companies

In working conditions that stress a quick turnaround on products, have close contact between employees and brisk temperatures, poultry workers say they were put at risk for catching the virus.

Massachusetts health departments overwhelmed, unprepared to protect workers

With federal regulators missing from the field and state leaders scrambling to manage the COVID-19 crisis, Massachusetts’ 351 overtaxed local boards of health were unwittingly thrust into a new role last year — overseers of workplace safety.

As Walmart sales soared, workers got scant COVID-19 protection from OSHA

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, provides a window into OSHA’s performance during the pandemic.

Settlement in Idaho case strengthens homeless protections

Homeless people in Boise with nowhere else to sleep can no longer be arrested for doing so in public, under the terms of the settlement announced by the city and plaintiffs.

Wall Street investors pricing Americans out of last bastion of affordable housing

Some of Wall Street’s largest investment firms, including Apollo Global Management, The Blackstone Group and Brookfield Asset Management, are now landlords to some of America’s poorest residents.

Legislative efforts to protect trailer park residents from eviction show mixed results

The plight of residents in mobile home communities has caught the attention of state and federal lawmakers, who are working to craft legislation that would safeguard the rights of homeowners while helping to keep rents affordable.

Public housing, the last refuge for the poor, threatens to kick out tenants for small debts

Public housing is supposed to be a solution to homelessness, not a cause of it. The Howard Center for Investigative Journalism analyzed four years of eviction data to find out why five public-housing authorities are taking so many of their clients to court.

East Coast residents have ‘false sense of security’ about threats from invading saltwater

Around the country, scientists are sounding the alarm about saltwater intrusion. But the responses on the ground are sometimes inadequate and may not be sustainable because they run up against economic pressures from development, farming or tourism.

About The Howard Center

The Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, launched in 2019, gives University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism students the opportunity to work with news organizations across the country to report stories of national or international importance to the public. The multidisciplinary program is focused on training the next generation of reporters through hands-on investigative journalism projects. The Howard Center is generously funded by $3 million from the Scripps Howard Foundation. It honors Roy W. Howard, one of the newspaper world’s most dynamic personalities. He became president of the United Press when he was 29 and 10 years later was named chairman of the board of Scripps Howard. He retired in 1953 but remained active in the company until his death at age 81 in 1964.

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Contact The Howard Center

Kathy Best, Director
Phone: 301-405-8808
Twitter @kbest

Sean Mussenden, Data editor
Email: smussend@umd.edu