Book Review: The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone

The Jesus Question

As a schoolgirl, I was taught plenty about slavery and segregation in the US; I was taught that both were gross injustices, shameful times in our nation’s past. There was so much emphasis on the civil rights movement in our elementary school curriculum that whenever anyone asked me who my hero was, I always said “Rosa Parks.”

What I don’t remember ever being taught about, though, was lynching—at least not in very much detail. I didn’t learn about it in school, and I certainly didn’t learn about it in church. I was aware that in the Jim Crow South, white mobs sometimes brutalized black men and even killed them by hanging, but that was about the extent of my knowledge of lynching. I didn’t know how common and widespread it was. Nor that women and children were among the victims. Nor that burning and mutilation were almost always involved. Nor…

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