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Fri, 08.21.1874

Julia Hayden, Teacher Murdered

Julia Hayden

*On this date, in 1874, Julia Hayden was murdered.  She was a seventeen-year-old Black girl set to begin her career as a teacher of young Black children in Tennessee.  

August was back-to-school time for the kids. It was also when terrorist groups like the White League and Ku Klux Klan would burn schools, whip children on their way to class, and kill teachers. On August 21, 1874, two white men came to Julia Hayden's house and killed her.  The White League, the latest manifestation of the Redeemer spirit, grew in Tennessee that summer. Many Blacks saw her killing as part of the group’s war against Black literacy.

Many white journalists disagreed, saying that the killers had merely wanted to rape the teenager, as had been their right during slave times, and that when she had resisted, they killed her. They argued that this slaughter of a teacher, who had, after all, been born a slave, had nothing to do with race at all. It was only about a couple of white men wanting to have their pleasure with a Black girl.  Frederick Douglass saw her murder as the latest manifestation of terror attacks against Black education. 

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