Lynchings formed the bloody backdrop of Southern life for a century after the Civil War. Between the 1860s and 1960s, thousands of black Americans were killed in public acts of racial terror. Millions more fled to cities in the North and West in an effort to escape this environment. Many soon discovered that, in many ways, the rest of American society was no less racist.
How many lynchings occurred during the Jim Crow era? Where? These are difficult questions to pinpoint. A November 2015 report by the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative found that nearly 4,000 black people were killed in lynchings in a dozen Southern states between 1877 and 1950—a higher number than any previous estimates. But lynchings were not strictly limited to the South. And, although black Americans were victimized in far greater numbers than any group, other minorities were also targets.