“African Roots of War”

In 1915,  Dubois asks an important question pertaining to race and class conflict. He wonders why lower; working class Whites are not helping the exploited Asians, and Blacks. Since, all of them are in the working class he analyzes why the working class Whites side with the upper class Whites. DuBois thinks that it would make more sense for the working class to work together because they are all exploited as a whole. However, this does not happen because the working class Whites,  identify more with their race rather than their socioeconomic standing.

I found myself asking a similar question when president Trump was elected.   The media showed White people of all backgrounds supporting Trump. Many, lower class Whites were especially prone to voting for him. I thought about why this was.  After reading “African Roots of War”,  I now have a clearer answer.

I would never have thought someone would say Trump is relatable or like the common man. I would think that him being apart of the upper class would produce the opposite effect. That he would not have the lower class best interest at heart and would not be relatable to the average American. I have heard these statements however, not because of class, but because of his race. The shared race makes him relatable to a working class White person, just like it did in 1915. They also are not exploited as much as someone who does not share their race, even though they are not in the same class. Even after a hundred plus years, DuBois examples can still be seen in society today.

Lynchings Near Home and Connections to Wells

Lynching’s Near Home and Connections to Wells   

Peyton O’Laughlin  


In February, while on social media, I came across a post about a young black man from the late 1800’s. The man was accused of raping a white woman and the price he paid was with his life. The significance of the tale of this is that this lynching happened about fifteen miles from my home and is one of two lynching’s that occurred in this area.  

In June of 1897, in Urbana, Ohio, Charles “Click” Mitchell, pleaded guilty to the rape of Eliza Gaumer. The night of June 4, 1897, Charles Mitchell was then placed in the local Urbana jail and would be soon transported to the state penitentiary in Columbus Ohio. Reportedly, local citizens had caught the attention of Mitchell’s crime and a mob formed around the courthouse where the trial was being held. Later, before Mitchell could be transported to Columbus, the mob surrounded the local jail, battered the doors with sledgehammers and attempted to seize Charles Mitchell. In order to protect the jail, the local, national guard or “militia” opened fire on the crowd and killed two men and injured eight men. Mitchell was seized by the mob, beaten to near death, and then hung in the courthouse square.   

First, I want to distinguish the size of the mob. The reports vary in numbers. Some articles claimed there were hundreds of citizens in the lynch mob, one article claimed there to be about 1,500 people. Regardless, we can assume there was a large number of citizens in this mob. Second, I want to distinguish the hanging. I was very censored with the description. One article I found describes the incident of Mitchell’s hanging in extreme detail. All I can say is that this incident was very barbaric, at one point during the attack on this man, men in the mob struck him with hammers and clubs. The article states, “Men hacked at it [Mitchell’s Body] with clubs and hammers, and when the body was taken down and laid in the grass, it was almost unrecognizable.” To describe the events after the lynching, The Indianapolis News stated, “The mob refused to part with the victim, and claimed him as a spectacle to be viewed all day.  When the sight-seeing was over the rope was cut into bits and passed around.  The bark on the maple tree was stripped beyond arm’s length.  Then to get keepsakes of the affair, the dead man’s clothes were cut.  First, his tan shoes, then his black socks were taken, then snip by snip pieces were cut from his trouser legs and coat.” Charles Mitchell was made a spectacle of and pieces from the incident were taken as mementos.  

I was able to make connections between the incident to Ida B. Wells, Southern Horrors. In Chapter 2 of Southern Horrors, Wells goes through the subject of black men that are accused of raping white women. The chapter begins by explaining how a minister’s wife from Elyria, Ohio accused a black man, of rape. The wife told her husband that a black man broke into their house while the minister was absent. The man was caught and the courts found him guilty after he pleaded that he wasn’t. After the man had already served four years in the federal penitentiary, the minister’s wife confessed the truth of the incident. The wife had met the black man at the post office, he was polite to her, and after courting her, he made a proposal, presumably about sexual relations with the minister’s wife, and she readily consented. The minister’s wife later lied about being raped because, “the neighbors saw the fellows here,” and, “was afraid that I had contracted a loathsome disease.” Many reports about white women that were allegedly raped by white women ended in lynch mobs taking the law into their own hands. These mobs mainly contained white men trying to make examples of black men about trying to court white women.  

Eliza Gaumer, the woman that accused Charles Mitchell, was a widow in her mid-forties and was described by The Indianapolis News as, “small and handsome and is spoken of by everybody here as a lady of culture and character.” Gaumer couldn’t give her testimony in court because she was “bedridden” and was “compelled’ to give her testimony from bed via the town mayor who was hearing her case. Later, after hearing of the lynching, the son of Gaumer, Charles Gaumer, told the newspapers that, “she received the news of the lynching with every manifestation of satisfaction, but expressed regret for the killing of innocent people at the jail last night.”  Gaumer was described as not being present for either her testimony or her remarks to the newspapers. All of her words were reported by men of the community or family. One paper reported that, prior to the accusations against Mitchell, the two individuals only encountered when Mitchell came to buy milk from Gaumer. It was reported that Gaumer was attacked and raped on a day where Mitchell came to purchase milk from her. The Indianapolis News, when writing about the events that led to the mob, stated, ” There were whispers of scratchings, bitings, and chokings. On the authority of the statement of Dr. Henderson, Mrs. Gaumer’s physician, to an intimate friend, it can be said that part of this story was exaggerated, and also that she will recover from her injuries.” From what I’ve proposed in this post, is it possible that Mrs. Gaumer had invited Charles Mitchell into her home for sexual relations and, out of fear that the neighbors had caught sight of a black man leaving her home had concocted a story where Mitchell had raped her? Is it possible that the citizens of the town had made false claims against Mitchell because of pre-existing notions about sexual relationships between different races?  

I want to quickly discuss another lynching that was juxtaposed to the lynching of Charles Mitchell. The Indianapolis News covered the story of the lynching of Charles Mitchell and brought up a white man, by the name Ullery, who was lynched twenty years prior to Charles Mitchell. Ullery pleaded guilty to raping a young girl. Later, after Ullery’s trial, forty men raided the Urbana jail, captured Ullery, put him in a “box”, and allowed him two minutes to prepare for death. After the two minutes, Ullery was then hung in the courthouse square. His body was unclaimed and later buried in the local cemetery.  

Now that I recounted two different lynching’s, do you believe that the lynching of Charles Mitchell, was based on racism?   

The Lynchings were about twenty years apart, but given the similarities in the crimes that the men were accused of, the fact that both men pleaded guilty to their alleged crimes, and both men were put to death in the same fashion, was the lynching of Charles Mitchell based on racism? When considering this question, please take into account the differences in the sizes of the lynch mobs, the actions taken by the lynch mobs once the individual that they were seeking was seized, and how the individuals were treated after the lynching had occurred.    

I apologize if anyone was offended by this post. I did not intend on offending anyone I was only attempting to shed light on a local, historical event from near my home that involved race.  



Ohio Lynchings: Charles “Click” Mitchell (L. L. Gustafson, Trans.). (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2018, from http://www.genealogybug.net/ohio_alhn/crime/mitchell.htm   

Last, A. (1970, January 01). Strange Fruit and Spanish Moss. Retrieved March 20, 2018, from http://strangefruitandspanishmoss.blogspot.com/2014/06/june-4-1897-charles-click-mitchell.html   

Campbell, W. J. (2006). The year that defined American journalism: 1897 and the clash of paradigms [Google Preview]. Routledge. Retrieved March 20, 2018, from https://books.google.com/books?id=iiZGAQAAQBAJ&pg=PT68&lpg=PT68&dq=charles+click+mitchell&source=bl&ots=sTvlcWA0Oh&sig=CRAq0Py0WMxgjYUU2xZDrg8AlfA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwil-57CpfnZAhVIzlkKHeryAKQQ6AEIVzAF#v=onepage&q&f=false   

Middleton, E. P. (1917). History of Champaign County, Ohio its people, industries and institutions(Vol. 1) [Google Preview]. B.F Bowen. Retrieved March 20, 2018, from https://books.google.com/books?id=TdQyAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA1143&lpg=PA1143&dq=ullery+lynching&source=bl&ots=6C1HCoYuv7&sig=t2JreINmPPYBwr71QEhM5ljI0Co&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjQhLz2ufnZAhUBvFkKHVtzBv8Q6AEIOTAD#v=onepage&q=ullery%20lynching&f=false   

Wells, Ida B. (1892) Southern Horrors. Lynch Law In All Its Phases (n.d.) The New York Age Print  


Colorism, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group. Colorism has influenced what we as a society consider to be beautiful. It has forced many of us to put one another into boxes and has caused us to have preconceived ideas of each other based on the color of our skin. A good example of colorism present in the media is the casting call used to find girls to be in the 2015 film, Straight Outta Compton.

In this casting call they list four different groups, from A girls to D girls. It begins with describing the guidelines you must meet to be considered an A girl. A girls, according to the casting call, “are the hottest of the hottest. Models. MUST have real hair – no extensions, very classy looking, great bodies. You can be black, white, asian, hispanic, mid eastern, or mixed race too. “. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well as the you continue further down the list the casting call begins to associate attractiveness and beauty to lighter skin tone. For example B girls are “fine girls, long natural hair, really nice bodies. Small waists, nice hips. You should be light-skinned.”and continues to C girls who are “African American girls. Medium to light skinned with a weave”and D girls are “African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone”. This is just one example of colorism in the media. If you go on twitter, for example, you will quickly find plenty of posts about light skins and dark skins and debates on which skin tone is better. Colorism has divided communities for decades and has always had a deep influence on society.




Returning home

Despite their distinguished wartime record, the Tuskegee Airmen returned to an America unwilling to recognize their contributions. Racism and segregation continued to have a stranglehold on the country. Instead of being greeted with a hero’s welcome, the Tuskegee Airmen were segregated as soon as they disembarked the ships that brought them home. German prisoners of war were treated better than black Americans. Its absolute appalling to think Nazi soldiers that killed american and ally troops were treated better then African American soldiers that sacrificed so much for their country. It would be decades before their war efforts were acknowledged or even widely known, and it could be said that even today many people do not know about the remarkable achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen. Misinformation, or lack of any factual information at all, is rampant. The Tuskegee Airmen continued their fight for social justice, alongside all black Americans, into the 1960’s and beyond, but their performance in World War II contributed significantly to the desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces. On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981 that ended segregation in the military and set the stage for equal treatment regardless of race. Many Tuskegee Airmen went on to have distinguished military and civilian careers. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, generals, congressmen, authors, Korean and Vietnam war heroes, and many more make up a snapshot of these fine Americans. They continue to be regarded for opening the doors to opportunity for minorities that would come after them.

“Brown as a Cold War Case” Reflection

Something that I’ve always struggled with has been the idea of knowing that people in other countries and places suffer far greater hardships than we (modern day Americans) currently do, but also not letting that be an excuse as to why Americans might be exempt from acknowledging the level of responsibility that we have as a model to other nations. One specific excerpt in this piece that I highlight stated this:

“It is no secret that America is today hailed as leader of the democratic world. This carries with it a great deal of moral responsibility. Firstly, it entails that the American concept and practice of democracy within its own territories should acknowledge the necessity of equal opportunity for all citizens, no matter the racial origin. Secondly, it implies that the United States should set an example for all other nations by taking the lead in removing from its national life all signs and traces of racial intolerance, arrogance or discrimination for which it criticizes some other nations,” (section 9).

This quote was profound to me because based on the responsibilities it outlines, we are not and have not been credible enough as a nation to be “leader of the democratic world”. This excerpt very much reminded me of the Double V Campaign as well, in the sense that it highlights the injustice we do by pointing out flaws of other nations and seeking to fight on their behalf, when we don’t fight for those same causes on out own land. In my opinion, America prides itself on being “leader of the democratic world” for the sake of status and not morality.