Date of Graduation

5-2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Journalism (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Journalism

Advisor

Gerald Jordan

Committee Member

Caree Banton

Second Committee Member

Bret Schulte

Keywords

African American, Arkansas, Lynching

Abstract

As Americans grew increasingly interested in historic racial violence following the Black Lives Matter movement in 2021, select news publications chose to publish apologetic editorials and articles that addressed their failure of inclusive reporting for the last century (Lancaster, 2021; Fannin, 2020). In the theme of acknowledging past mistakes, the Printing Hate project emerged to investigate the power white-owned papers had in influencing lynching incidents in the county (Capital News Service, 2021). The present study examines one Arkansas lynching in 1904 St. Charles. The incident includes the death of 13 Black men. Findings from a content analysis of 70 original newspaper articles suggest media erasure – omission and inaccuracies – as reported by the initial journalists. Analysis shows that this has largely resulted in a forgotten history. Furthermore, interviews with prominent state officials, historians and the victims’ descendants showed an overall lack of knowledge of the lynching, which one historian, Vince Vinikas, wrote may be the “single deadliest lynching in American history” (Vinikas, 1999). Descendants provided new details of the events that occurred nearly 120 years ago, and for the first time, the voice of African Americans led the narrative of their ancestors’ deaths. Findings also suggest the large absence in St. Charles and Southeast Arkansas concerning the event – from a decreasing African-American population, to the removal of prominent Black gathering places and a lack of memorial to the lynching – has also contributed to the erasure.

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