This Week in Reconstruction, September 16-22, 1866

He laid in his home for nearly forty-eight hours, his body ridden with bullet holes, his brain unable to think of anything else but the pain he was in, before he did. Not much is known about this man. What we do know is that his life was cut short because of the deplorable actions of a men. A group of men walked into a house, destroyed the furniture, the garden, ate the food in the kitchen, and then began to "indiscriminately slaughter" all those inside. Not much is known about the man who spent his final hours bleeding out on the floor of his own home. But we do know that he is a "negro", and because his skin is darker than others, his "slaughter" does not warrant pause. The Dispatch used less than one-hundred words to report on this "slaughter". This man's death warranted only the smallest section of the newspaper. Why? Because this story is not special. Every day the Dispatch reports on assaults, thefts, and murders of black men and women as if they have no significance. Perhaps, the individual case no longer has significance, it is, in fact, no longer special if it is a daily occurrence. But the trend, the constant pain that white Richmonders feel entitled to inflict on their black neighbors, does have significance. Politicians across the city and the nation are talking about the ways to improve the lives of freedmen and further the cause of equality. Their intentions are noble. But until a black man can safely sit in his home without the fear of a mob entering and laying slaughter to him and his family, all other rights are secondary. The lack of significance given to this unnamed man's death by the Dispatch, politicians, and white Richmonders is only outmatched by the police. The police have taken no interest in discovering anymore facts about this case, facts that may lead to the arrest of the murderers, because they know enough facts already. They know the victim was black.

Contributed By

Nat Berry