Patricia Bernstein

The First Waco Horror

The Lynching of Jesse Washington and the Rise of the NAACP

About the Book

The First Waco Horror: The Lynching of Jesse Washington and the Rise of the NAACP is the story of the public torture and murder of Jesse Washington, a 17-year old retarded black boy, on the town square of Waco, Texas, in 1916, before an audience of 10,000 screaming, cheering spectators. The book also describes the efforts of the fledgling NAACP to investigate, dramatize and publicize the event in order to expose the reality of the crime of lynching and force the nation to see it for what it was.

The First Waco Horror sets the scene by painting a picture of Waco, enamored with an image of itself as “the Athens of Texas,” but with an ugly, persistent history of violence. The book then depicts the brave souls who founded the NAACP in 1909, and tells the story of women’s suffrage activist Elisabeth Freeman who was hired to go to Waco and investigate the Washington lynching. Freeman, clever, courageous and relentless, used all of her skills and wiles to get the facts and identify the lynch mob leaders. W. E. B. Du Bois, brilliant editor of the NAACP’s magazine, then told the story of the Waco Horror to the world.

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“Patricia Bernstein tells a tale that is long overdue, and tells it extremely well. This story is riveting, tragic, and an altogether indispensable part of American history.”

— Kweisi Mfume, President and CEO, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

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The Details

Published: January 18, 2006
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
Pages: 264
Formats: EbookPaperback
ISBN-10: 1585445444 ISBN-13: 978-1585445448 ASIN: B006SE9LLQ
Genres & Tropes
History, Nonfiction, True Crime