Date of Graduation

5-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Journalism (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Journalism

Advisor

Colleen Thurston

Committee Member

Rob Wells

Second Committee Member

Gerald Jordan

Keywords

African American History, Black History, Lynching, Northwest Arkansas, Race, Slavery, Washington County

Abstract

While Northwest Arkansas is considered as diverse and progressive today, it also shares a common history of racial violence, and yet almost unknown, with the Southern United-States. Little is being said about the slave plantations in Elkins, racial cleansing in Springdale, or public spectacle lynchings in Fayetteville. This is because white people who hold political and economic power also control how history is written and decide what is to be learned from their perspectives. Marginalized communities, especially Black people, have not always had agency to tell their own stories. The lynchings of three enslaved males, Anthony, Aaron, and Randall, in Washington county in 1856 for the alleged murder of a white slaveholder is a case in point. Two conflictive narratives about the events surrounding this incident emerged among white and Black residents, the most widely known being the white version. Built on the foundational research conducted by the Washington County Community Remembrance Project, a grassroots organization dedicated to memorializing the lives of the three victims, this paper is a contribution to reclaim the story of Anthony, Aaron, and Randall, by giving precedence to the oral account carried by the Black community. It also discusses the legacy of racial violence of Northwest Arkansas, the unequal power dynamic to control history in dominant-white society, and the importance of public memory of lynching.

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