Without Sanctuary

The Lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith played an important role in publicizing the horrors of lynching. Thomas Shipp, Abram Smith, and James Cameron were taken to local jail where they were seized by a lynch mob. Shipp and Smith were hung in a public square in front of two thousand people. Cameron was almost hung there but someone yelled that he was innocent and was cut down. Photographs played a significant role in the lynching ritual as torture or souvenir grabbing. Several lynchings were delayed until photographers arrived. Participants in lynchings regularly posed with the corpse and sent images to family members as postcards. The lynching photographs were also sent to anti-lynching activist. One anti-lynching activist James Allen created a lynching photography exhibition (Without Sanctuary) that provided a new context for the images by appropriating material never intended as protest. The photographs seemed like mirror images of the exhibition’s white visitors. It forced the history of lynching into public memory. The senate apologized for their failure to enact an anti-lynching legislation.



Karl Marx as a student, studied law, history, and philosophy. While in Germany, he was influenced heavily by the German philosopher G.W.F Hegel. He was considered by some to be the most dangerous thinker in western history and is considered the world’s most famous proponent of revolutionary socialist/ communist thought. Marx invented his theory of Marxism and I’m going to talk about four of his five points. His first point was that those who control capital will dominate modern society. He talked about how the most important factor contributing to capitalism’s inevitable destruction are the class antagonisms between the ruling class and the working class- who are brutally exploited. The next point he made was that the working class’s exploitation will become more obvious and enact a workers’ revolution. Lastly, he talked about how in a classless society, women and children will be treated as equals.

I think Marx would look at the lynching as a direct representation of class differences. The whites and blacks are two different classes where the whites are the ruling class. They controlled most of the capital in society so they are considered the ruling class. I think he would agree that the blatant exploitation of black people and the disrespect they received led to the destruction of their current society. The photographs of the lynchings being displayed in the exhibit made it obvious that black people were being abused which led to the signing of the legislation. Lastly, a society without classes and the ability to exploit one another would help black people be treated as equal when compared to white people. I think Marx would feel that the events that took place correlate directly to his theory of Marxism.

I think you can apply this concept roughly to the discrimination of women in their fight for equality. They were discriminated and disrespected for years and were treated has inferior to men. Women finally stood up for what they believed and made a change. Even though they achieved equality they are still having the same reoccurring battle today.



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