So you want to talk about lynching? Understand this first.


Oct. 23, 2019 at 3:49 p.m. EDT

Michele Norris is a former host of NPR’s “All Things Considered” and the founding director of the Race Card Project.

Okay. Let’s talk.

A lynching involved a man, but sometimes a woman or a child, who was dragged from home, heels in the dirt, body contorting, convulsing with fear.

Rope

The rope believed to have bound the wrists of Raymond Byrd, who was lynched in Wythe County, Va., in 1926. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

A lynching involved another man — this time, almost always a man — finding a rope and making a noose, or perhaps finding a rope that had already been made into a noose, for this was not exactly rare in an earlier time. It took a special kind of rope to hold the knot, to hold the weight. A heavy rope. Corded and coarse.

The knot took skill; the act was impulsive, but the details relied on practiced technique. The genus, health and shape of the tree were important. Were the branches high enough? Thick enough? Healthy enough to accommodate the sudden plummet of death?

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