Mob Rule in New Orleans by Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1900)

This is a disturbing read. With incredible directness and absence of colorful language this little pamphlet describes the horrible events committed by mobs in and around New Orleans. The utter disregard for the lives of black people and the complete disdain for the rule of law is shocking when looked at in a modern context. Common law concepts such as innocence until proven guilty and freedom of speech were continually ignored. At the same time, the atrocities attributed to the mob didn’t result in any arrests whatsoever.

Robert Charles and his friend are sitting out in front of house when they are accosted by three officers. His friend submits to the unwarranted arrest while Robert fights back and flees the scene. What follows is a citywide manhunt that results in the death of Robert Charles and a dozen police officers and citizens. As a result of this bloodshed mobs form around New Orleans killing innocent black people indiscriminately. Ida B. Wells-Barnett crafts a patchwork of local news articles and interviews to paint the terrible scene. Learn from the past by picking up Mob Rule in New Orleans.


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