The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

Bipartisan anti-lynching bill has roots in Coweta County


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Jan. 11, 2019 - 10:22 AM

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation to make mob lynching a federal civil rights crime.

On April 21, 2018, the National Socialist Movement held a rally in Newnan at Greenville Street Park. They were met by a strong police presence, hundreds of counter-protestors and a few Newnan residents.

Newnan was able to show the nation that the country’s sad history of race, intimidation and violence could be combated with community concern and compassion.

Newnan can lead the way again by affirming justice and reconciliation by reaching out to U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue and urge the support of this anti-lynching bill. If passed in the House, this bill will land on the desk of President Donald Trump.

Many residents – Newnan Strong – came together with the approval of the Newnan City Council the night before the rally to affirm that racism is not tolerated and that Newnan is the city too busy to hate. That night Newnan residents took a stand against hate promoted by marchers coming into town and supported local business and graced the square and
sidewalks with chalk drawings by children.

This bill not only relates to the rally held at Greenville Street park but to a lynching that happened a few miles away in 1899.

According to staff reports on April 23, 1899, Sam Hose was tied to a tree near the
intersection of Roscoe Road and U.S. 29 and burned alive.

Hose, a black man working for the Cranford family of Coweta County was accused of murdering his boss, Alfred Cranford, sexually assaulting Cranford’s wife and seriously injuring his infant son.

Hose’s body parts were cut off. Portions of his face and skin were peeled. He was doused with kerosene and set on fire at the current intersection of Roscoe Road and U.S. 29.

Historical records report that 1,500 Atlantans took trains to see the lynching.

Hose – also known as Sam Holt and Tom Wilkes – may have very well been guilty but the final verdict was made in the streets, not the court. Justice was denied for Hose. Many persons faced the barbaric atrocity of lynching and were denied justice.

After nearly 200 failed attempts to pass this bill and more than a century of the anti-lynching bill being proposed U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and democratic colleagues Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey led the bill.

Georgia has had a reported 592 lynchings with five reported in Coweta County between 1877 and 1950, according to the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI)
https://lynchinginamerica.eji....

Georgia’s authorities (in 1899) were cautioned not to attempt to interfere with “the peoples will,” by The Newnan Herald and Advertiser, who expressed “no punishment was adequate to match the crime against the Cranfords.”

Scholar and activist, W.E.B Dubois, felt that this case was “trumped up to arouse the worst passions of the countryside.”

The EJI is welcoming counties across the country to claim their official monuments at the site of lynchings. These monuments are steel columns with the name of those lynched at that space. Duplicates are currently erected at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala.

Newnan continues to make efforts to address racial and economic justice and bring healing to our community and nation. The anti-lynching bill would impose a life sentence
of prison on those found guilty of mob lynching.

Newnan resident Harry Gatewood is a health care chaplain and advocate for justice. He is completing his doctorate in counseling and focuses on communal wellness.