Marion Lynching Resources

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Marion Public Library Indiana Room

The Indiana Room, located in the Museum in the Marion Public Library, is a great source for information regarding the Marion Lynchings. The Indiana Room is the home of many binders that contain an abundance of information about the Marion Lynchings. These binders contain articles from various newspapers, and internet articles. Among the vast array of folders, there are videos that can be watched in the library to further educate you about your studies. If they to do a project or want to know about the lynchings that transpired in Marion, Indiana, then the Indiana Room will have all of the information that they will need.

Newspapers

Here are a few articles, over the Marion Lynching, that can be found in the Indiana Room.

"Trouble Yet Haunts Ex-Resident”

“Trouble Yet Haunts Ex Resident” is an article, in August 2, 1992, written by Greg J. Borowski and published in the Marion Chronicle Tribune. This article goes into detail about how the lynchings of Abram Smith and Thomas Shipp, and near-lynching of himself, affected James Cameron. Cameron can be seen in his Black Holocaust Museum, founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1988, usually telling stories of various lynchings that happened to African Americans around America. Although Cameron would spend most, if not all of his day talking about various lynchings, he abstained from talking about his own, the only time he could be seen talking about his own was when he was in a group, in lecture situations. Cameron refrains from talking about his own lynching because he says that it was “too emotional” and he often ends up in tears midway through the discussion.

Reading this article will give anyone who wishes to indulge themselves in knowledge about the Marion Lynchings, insight into Cameron’s feelings about the subject. Knowing that Cameron can’t openly talk about the subject on a consistent basis unless he is doing this in some type of lecture situations helps the person know that even after 60 years, Cameron is still affected by this pivotal event.

“Incident Sparked Man’s Charges”

Reynolds, Betty. Ed. "August 7, 1930 Lynching Marion, Center twp." Incident Sparked Man's Charges. Volume 3. Mairon, IN: Marion Public Library, Print.

“Incident Sparked Man’s Charges” is an article, written on February 12, 1993, in the Marion Chronicle Tribune. This article gives a brief summary of the events that caused the incarceration of Cameron, Shipp, and Smith. Although Shipp and Smith were arrested for the raping and murder of a white woman and man respectively, Cameron was only “tried, for being an accessory, and put in the Indiana Reformatory for four years.” This article gives the reader further insight into the events that lead up to the lynching, why the mob was so infuriated at the boys, and why Cameron was let go.

The hanging of Smith and Shipp

“An American Tale”

Reynolds, Betty. Ed. "August 7, 1930 Lynching Marion, Center twp." An American Tale. Volume 3. Mairon, IN: Marion Public Library, Print.

“An American Tale” was published in the "Village Voice" on February 01, 1994 in New York, New York. The article is a story of a person telling of their experience with the lynching, and how it has effected their live, then the storyteller goes on to detail the events, in great depth, of the lynching. The storyteller tells of how their family would talk about the lynching and how their grandfather was a KKK member back when the lynching happened, although he did not get to witness the lynching on account of him doing some postal runs at the time. Shortly before setting out to do his postal runs at 3 am, the grandfather got a call from one of his friends, his friend said not to go towards the courthouse that night, or he “might see something you don’t want to”, usually after telling this story, the family would start to chuckle. When the reader remembers this laughter, he or she seems disturbed by how their family could make light of such a tragic event. After giving that back-story, the storyteller tells of the events before the boys were arrested. Cameron was given the gun by Smith and told to tell the couple to “stick em up”, but upon seeing that it was Claude Deeter, one of his kindest customers at his shoeshine stand, Cameron gave the gun back to Smith and ran away as fast as he could, gunshots and screams ringing behind him.

The storyteller helps the reader learn how some white families felt about the lynching, and how it was perceived at the time. This article also lets the reader know that Cameron did not want to go through with the event, but was coerced into it.

Internet

Lynchings and Hangings in American History

“Lynchings and Hangings in American History” is the first article to give the date, August 7, 1930, that the event occurred, and the age of all three boys. The article talks about what went on that night, how the boys were tortured, and all hung, except Cameron who brushed past death with the assistance of a voice in the crowd telling everyone that he did not commit the crimes that the other boys did. This article provides bits and pieces of information, the ages of the boys and the date of the incident, that somebody that wants to know more about the lynching could find helpful.

Strange Fruit: Anniversary Of A Lynching

This radio story told on this website goes into depth about the scale of the lynching. The story tells about how many people were there, how the town and everyone reacted to Deeter’s death and how the sheriff futilely tried to stop the mob from breaking into the cells and getting the three boys. People were having picnics while watching the lynching going on and the lack of kindness in the crowd, there was no sympathy for the victims, only anger and spite. This story will help people understand the scale of the lynching and how many people wanted to see the lynching going on and how nonchalant people acted about the lynching.

James Cameron in 2005

Books

A Lynching In The Heartland: Race and Memory in America

A Lynching in the Heartland: Race and Memory in America is a book written by James H. Madison, a History Professor at Indiana University, his book tells of the Marion lynching, as well as other lynchings and crimes against blacks that happened in America at the time. This provides a further look into the way blacks were treated back then as opposed to now.

A-lynching-in-heartland-race-memory-america-james-h-madison-paperback-cover-art.jpg

A Time of Terror

A Time of Terror was James Cameron’s historical book about the Marion Lynchings. Cameron tried to get his book published by many people, but time and time again he got rejected. Cameron’s luck changed when Ebony published an article about the lynching and in this article included the picture of the two boys that were lynching, hanging from a tree. Cameron proceeded to call the editors of the magazine and he asked them if they knew much about the story, when they told him that they indeed did not know much about the lynching, Cameron knew he was on the right track, and he got them to publish his book. Up until then, the residents of Marion had no clue that James Cameron was still alive after all of these years, in fact, Cameron was not just alive, but he now had a wife and kids! Cameron’s book went on to describe the horror of what really happened that fateful night. Thousands of Indiana residents showed up at the County Jail that night, all of them wielding “picks, bats, ax handles, crowbars, torches, and firearms”. People were hurling rocks, stones, bricks, whatever they could find, at the windows of the County Jail, they were out for revenge, they wanted the boys and nothing was going to stop them. Police officers did not seem to care, they just let the people through and one-by-one, Smith and Shipp were lynched, while they were dragging him towards the maple tree, people were throwing stones and beating him, Cameron said he looked up and saw schoolmates, teachers, and former customers at his shoeshine stand, standing in the crowd, glaring at him.

Cameron’s book “A Time of Terror” is an excellent resource for those wanting to learn about the Marion Lynchings because it comes from the only survivor of the incident, and it puts you in his shoes, giving you a first-person perspective of what was going on during those days.

Our Town

Cynthia Carr’s book “Our Town” provides a useful trove of information about the Marion Lynchings. While penned from a sometimes frustrating personal frame of reference, it contains a number of interviews with eyewitnesses that have likely since passed away, such as one with an intentionally nameless—not to mention fervently racist—deputy who was present at the jailhouse during the incident. Benefiting from Carr’s objectivity as a journalist, the book contains more recently surfaced or overlooked details that Madison omits, such as her somewhat deeper look into the planning of the lynching. It also provides a better modern perspective, with Carr almost working her way backwards into the details of the lynching. As an example, she discusses its implications and attempts at memorialization in the town.

Credits

This article was written by Jessey Nettey on May 25,2011 in Mr. William Munn's IU H106 American History class at American High School. The Our Town section written by Evan William Munn.