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Fri, 11.21.1930

The Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching is Formed

ASWPL meeting, 1938

*On this date in 1930, the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching (ASWPL) was founded.  

Activist Jesse Ames founded ASWPL with headquarters in Atlanta.  The organization initially excluded Black women and appealed directly to white southern women to stop the lynching. The ASWPL secured the signatures of 40,000 southern women on its 'Pledge Against Lynching' (see below). Despite encountering hostile opposition and threats of violence, the women conducted petition drives, lobbying, and fundraising across the South to work against lynching.  By 1940, more than 100 women's organizations had joined the movement against lynching.  

ASWPL Pledge:  We declare lynching is an indefensible crime, destructive of all principles of government, hateful and hostile to every ideal of religion and humanity, debasing and degrading to every person involved...public opinion has accepted too easily the claim of lynchers and mobsters that they are acting solely in defense of womanhood. In light of the facts, we dare no longer permit this claim to pass unchallenged nor allow those bent upon personal revenge and savagery to commit acts of violence and lawlessness in the name of women. We solemnly pledge ourselves to create a new public opinion in the South that will not condone, for any reason whatever, acts of mobs or lynchers. We will teach our children at home, at school, and at church a new interpretation of law and religion; we will assist all officials in upholding their oath of office; and finally, we will join with every minister, editor, school teacher, and patriotic citizen in a program of education to eradicate lynching and mobs forever from our land. . .

President Ames opposed a federal anti-lynching law and advocated for individual state laws outlawing lynching. Senators from the South filibustered the proposed federal Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill. A Black women's group advocated this called the Anti-Lynching Crusaders. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) created the Anti-Lynching Crusaders in 1922 to mobilize support for the Dyer Bill. White Democrats from the Solid South commanded powerful congressional positions due to the disenfranchisement of Blacks across the South. Senator Tom Connally of Texas used a letter from Ames to show widespread southern opposition to the federal bill. Ames intended the letter to be private, allowing her to oppose lynching when the bill failed.  

By February 1937, 81 states, regional, and national organizations had endorsed the anti-lynching platform of the ASWPL. That year, the Southern Regional Council replaced the Texas Commission on Interracial Cooperation (CIC).  The number of lynchings decreased as the Great Depression ended, although notable lynchings took place in the postwar era, including Black men in uniform.   ASWPL helped create the anti-lynching movement in the American South. murders that white men claimed to commit to protect women's "virtue."  ASWPL gained 40,000 signatures from southern women to oppose lynching, helping change attitudes and curb these murders in the 1930s and 1940s.  

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Poetry Corner

There is a tree, by day, That, at night, Has a shadow, A hand huge and black, With fingers long and black, All through the dark, Against the white man's house, In the little wind, The black... TENEBRIS by Angelina weld Grimke’.
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