Rachel Marie-Crane WilliamsFeb 15, 2022
Elegy for Mary Turner
An Illustrated Account of a Lynching
In late May 1918 in Valdosta, Georgia, ten Black men and one Black woman—Mary Turner, eight months pregnant at the time—were lynched and tortured by mobs of white citizens.
Through hauntingly detailed full-color artwork and collage, Elegy for Mary Turner names those who were killed, identifies the killers, and evokes a landscape in which the NAACP investigated the crimes when the state would not and a time when white citizens baked pies and flocked to see Black corpses while Black people fought to make their lives—and their mourning—matter.
Included are contributions from C. Tyrone Forehand, great-grandnephew of Mary and Hayes Turner, whose family has long campaigned for the deaths to be remembered; abolitionist activist and educator Mariame Kaba, reflecting on the violence visited on Black women’s bodies; and historian Julie Buckner Armstrong, who opens a window onto the broader scale of lynching’s terror in American history.
All royalties from Elegy for Mary Turner: An Illustrated Account of a Lynching (Verso, 2021) go to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA.
Brandon T. Jett, professor of history at Florida SouthWestern State College, creator of the Lynching in LaBelle Digital History Project, and author of Race, Crime, and Policing in the Jim Crow South (LSU Press, 202) Twitter: @DrBrandonJett1