In 1912 lynching was a common practice throughout the South—the Equal Justice Initiative has documented nearly 6,500 lynchings between 1865 and 1950. Lynch mobs targeted Black people for exercising free speech or for attempting to vote. They also frequently lynched accused criminals, and those who were not lynched rarely received fair trials. All-white juries often condemned Black defendants to death regardless of the evidence. By resorting to extralegal violence and public spectacle, lynchers sought to reinforce white supremacy throughout the region.
Racial violence sometimes took place on a massive scale. In 1906, after weeks of sensational newspaper coverage of alleged assaults on white women by Black men, white mobs killed between twenty-one and forty Black Georgians in what came to be known as the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906.
In other places, mass violence had a more sinister goal than intimidation. Many communities committed waves of racial terrorism that sought to expel Black residents entirely. The list is long: Comanche, Texas; Polk County, Tennessee; Pierce City, Missouri; Marshall County, Kentucky; Harrison, Arkansas; and many others whose stories were never recorded.
In 1912, Forsyth County's white community did the same.