In May, 1918, 31-year old white plantation owner Hampton Smith, known to abuse and beat his workers, was shot and killed by one of his black workers on the plantation, 19-year old Sydney Johnson. After a few days on the plantation, Johnson had been beaten by Smith for not working while he was sick.
A week-long mob-driven manhunt soon ensued, in which at least 13 people were killed; amongst those killed was another black man, Hayes Turner. Distraught, his eight-month pregnant wife Mary publicly opposed her husband's murder and threatened to have members of the mob arrested. This caused the mob to turn against her. She was taken from her home by a mob of several hundred, had her ankles tied, was hung upside down from a tree, doused in gasoline and motor oil and set on fire.
While still alive, a member of the mob split her abdomen open with a knife, and the unborn child fell to ground, where it was repeatedly stomped on and crushed. Finally, Turner's body was riddled with bullets. After the incident, the Associated Press wrote that Mary Turner had made unwise remarks about the execution of her husband.
- Lynching in the United States
- Nadir of American race relations
- Mass racial violence in the United States: War and Inter-War Period: 1914 - 1945
- Remembering Mary Turner
- Contemporary account of Walter White in The Crisis
- The Anti-Lynching Crusaders, Digital History