A University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor is one of 10 authors who contributed to a new book called “Bullets and Fire: Lying and Authority in Arkansas, 1840-1950.” The book explores the history of a century of lynchings in Arkansas.
In his chapter,Vincent Vinikas, UA Little Rock professor of history, wrote about “Thirteen Dead at Saint Charles: Arkansas’s Most Lethal Lynching and the Abrogation of Equal Protection.”
“The catastrophe in St. Charles unfolded in 1904,” Vinikas said. “It began when an African-American man hit a white man with a jug, though some claim it was a table leg. The man later grabbed a police officer’s gun and escaped while he was being taken to jail.”
Throughout the next week, vigilantes killed 13 people through a series of violent episodes. During one incident, a mob forced 60 to 70 African-Americans, including women and children, into an old building that they then planned to burn down. The burning was stopped, but six people were taken from the building and murdered. One man managed to crawl away but was shot to death when he was found the next morning.
Vinikas cited “A Festival of Violence,” a 1995 study of 10 southern states by Stewart Tolnay and E.M. Beck. They tabulated nearly 2,500 black fatalities from mobs between 1882 to 1930, which amounts to a black person being lynched, somewhere in the South, on an average of once a week for almost 40 years.
“By the early 20th century, the lynching of African-Americans was as common as it was catastrophic throughout the American South,” Vinikas wrote.
Guy Lancaster, editor of encyclopediaofarkansas.net, edited the book, “Bullets and Fire: Lying and Authority in Arkansas, 1840-1950.” There were more than 360 lynchings during this time period in Arkansas.
The book also featured articles by Kelly Houston Jones, Nancy Snell Griffith, Randy Finley, Richard Buckelew, Todd E. Lewis, Stephanie Harp, Cherisse Jones-Branch, William H. Pruden III, and Lancaster.
Vinikas joined UA Little Rock in 1983 and holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University.