Warning: Graphic Content 

In compliance with the “Hard Histories” series with the New York Department of Education, we asked OAH Distinguished Lecturer Kevin Boyle to discuss the traumatic and harrowing history of lynching in Jim Crow America by analyzing the infamous lynching photograph taken in Marion, Indiana on August 7, 1930 by studio photographer Lawrence Henry Beitler. Beitler sold thousands of copies. The image was part of the inspiration for what would become Billie Holiday’s iconic protest song “Strange Fruit” based on the poem written by Abel Meeropol. Click here to view the photo – reminder: this imagery is graphic.

Prof. Kevin Boyle on the Lynching Photograph of Victims Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith –  August 7, 1930 in Marion, Indiana

Guided Discussion Questions 

  • 1. Why did the white Americans of Marion, Indiana commit such a horrific act?
  • 2. Why would someone photograph the horror?
  • 3. Why would white Americans want to have copies of the horrific photo?

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