History Podcast Racial Justice True Crime

Episode 7: Christmas Lynchings

Black Americans weren’t spared lynching on Christmas Day during the lynching era.

Featured in this episode are the stories of three lynchings


December 25, 1901
Prairie Blossom Community, Lamar County, Texas

Reverend J N McClinton, a farmer and popular preacher, was inside on Christmas night when he heard men outside of his home, shouting for him to come outside. The pastor assumed it was a group of Christmas frolikers having some fun and joking around. He ignored their calls. Later that night, they would return.

June 30, 1944 letter from NAACP Florida lawyer Harry Moore to NAACP’s Thurgood Marshall. Letter addresses grand jury refusing to indict killers of 15 year old James Howard

December 25, 1906
Scooba, Kemper County, Mississippi
December of 1906 was a particularly violent month in Kemper County, Mississippi. What’s been referred to as riots, was a series of lynchings that resulted in the death of between 12 – 15 men. The lynching of Colvin Nicholson became known as one of the most violent in Mississippi since Reconstruction.

December 1943
Live Oak, Suwannee County, Florida

15 year old Willie James Howard was known to his friends and family as  “jolly” and “lovable.” He sent Christmas cards to all of his co workers at the local five and dime store, including a white co-worker he had a crush on. The girl, Cynthia Goff, was offended by the card and Willie James mentioning he had a crush on her.

Harry and Harriette Moore with daughters Evangeline and Annie

Cynthia did what Willie James never imagined she would do…she showed the card to her father who became enraged and set out to find Willie James.

More about this episode
60 Years Later, a Cry for Justice in Florida Killing by Audra D.S. Burch, McClatchy-Tribune

The Legacy of Harry T. Moore,

Performed by Ross Gentry. Courtesy of Headway Recordings in Asheville, North Carolina.

Learn more here