James Jameson, heir to the Jameson Irish Whiskey company, once bought a 10-year-old slave girl for six handkerchiefs because he wanted to sketch the event as cannibals killed, mutilated, and finally, ate her According to a report from The New York Times, Jameson had a fascination with cannibalism and wanted to experience the act firsthand. Jameson was on a trip in Africa in 1890 when an opportunity to fulfill his sick fantasy presented itself because he and his translator happened upon a cannibalistic tribe. Jameson consulted the tribe’s chiefs who told him if he wanted to witness the event, he’d have to buy a slave girl to be killed. Jameson returned a few minutes later with a 10-year-old girl he bought from a nearby slave trader for six handkerchiefs. The translator then approached the chiefs and said, “This is a present from a white man who desires to see her eaten.” According to an eye witness report of the scene, the cannibals tied the girl to a tree and stabbed her twice in the belly. The natives then cut pieces off of her body as Jameson sat sketching in his notebook. Jameson and his translator then made their way to chief’s hut where Jameson finished his sketches in watercolor.
In 1919, in the wake of World War I, black sharecroppers unionized in Arkansas, unleashing a wave of white vigilantism and mass murder that left 237 people dead. The visits began in the fall of 1918, just as World War I ended. At his office in Little Rock, Arkansas, attorney Ulysses S. Bratton listened as African American sharecroppers from the Delta told stories of theft, exploitation, and endless debt. A man named Carter had tended 90 acres of cotton, only to have his landlord seize the entire crop and his possessions. From the town of Ratio, in Phillips County, Arkansas, a black farmer reported that a plantation manager refused to give sharecroppers an itemized account for their crop. Another sharecropper told of a landlord trying “to starve the people into selling the cotton at his own price. They ain’t allowing us down there room to move our feet except to go to the field.” No one could know it at the time, but within a year these inauspicious meetings would lead to one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history. Initiated by whites, the violence—by any measure, a massacre—claimed the lives of 237 African Americans, according to a just released report from the Equal Justice Initiative. The death toll was unusually high, but the use of racial violence to subjugate blacks during this time was not uncommon. As the Equal Justice Initiative observes, “Racial terror lynching was a tool used to enforce Jim Crow laws and racial segregation—a tactic for maintaining racial control by victimizing the entire African American community, not merely punishment of an alleged perpetrator for a crime.” This was certainly true of the massacre in Phillips County, Arkansas.
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