"Our Town" by Cynthia Carr
The brutal lynching of two young black men in Marion, Indiana, on August 7, 1930, cast a shadow over the town that still lingers. It is only one event in the long and complicated history of race relations in Marion, a history much ignored and considered by many to be best forgotten. But the lynching cannot be forgotten. It is too much a part of the fabric of Marion, too much ingrained even now in the minds of those who live there. In Our Town journalist Cynthia Carr explores the issues of race, loyalty, and memory in America through the lens of a specific hate crime that occurred in Marion but could have happened anywhere.
Marion is our town, America’s town, and its legacy is our legacy.
Like everyone in Marion, Carr knew the basic details of the lynching even as a child: three black men were arrested for attempted murder and rape, and two of them were hanged in the courthouse square, a fate the third miraculously escaped. Meeting James Cameron–the man who’d survived–led her to examine how the quiet Midwestern town she loved could harbor such dark secrets. Spurred by the realization that, like her, millions of white Americans are intimately connected to this hidden history, Carr began an investigation into the events of that night, racism in Marion, the presence of the Ku Klux Klan–past and present–in Indiana, and her own grandfather’s involvement. She uncovered a pattern of white guilt and indifference, of black anger and fear that are the hallmark of race relations across the country.
In a sweeping narrative that takes her from the angry energy of a white supremacist rally to the peaceful fields of Weaver–once an all-black settlement neighboring Marion–in search of the good and the bad in the story of race in America, Carr returns to her roots to seek out the fascinating people and places that have shaped the town. Her intensely compelling account of the Marion lynching and of her own family’s secrets offers a fresh examination of the complex legacy of whiteness in America. Part mystery, part history, part true crime saga, Our Town is a riveting read that lays bare a raw and little-chronicled facet of our national memory and provides a starting point toward reconciliation with the past.
On August 7, 1930, three black teenagers were dragged from their jail cells in Marion, Indiana, and beaten before a howling mob. Two of them were hanged; by fate the third escaped. A photo taken that night shows the bodies hanging from the tree but focuses on the faces in the crowd—some enraged, some laughing, and some subdued, perhaps already feeling the first pangs of regret.
Sixty-three years later, journalist Cynthia Carr began searching the photo for her grandfather’s face.
# Paperback: 512 pages
# Publisher: Three Rivers Press (March 27, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0307341887
# ISBN-13: 978-0307341884
MY THOUGHTS: I had heard about this for years as I was growing up. The lynching of two black teenagers. But had never heard all the story, just about the hanging of the three people. I am ashamed to say this happened in my home town. I was outraged that something like this could happen and no one offered to help those poor boys. Cynthia Carr came back to Marion to research this book. She came up against a brick wall when trying to find people to talk about this. Even in the early 2000's no one wanted to talk about it. But thankfully Cynthia Carr kept digging and wrote this book. She even got to talk to James Cameron, he's the man that escaped the hanging. There is lots of information in this book about my home town that I didn't know. So I learned a lot from this book.
MY RATING: 8-12