The Shame of the Buckeye State: Journalistic Complacency on Episodic Lynching in Ohio from 1872 to 1932
by Rounkles M Claire, 2020, Master of Science (MS), Ohio University,
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The lynching era in Ohio lasted from 1803 to 1937. During these years thirty-five people died at the hands of a lynch mob and seventy-nine escaped from a mob’s clutches. This thesis situates the history of lynching in Ohio from 1872 to 1932 and discusses the issue of complacent journalism in the Ohio press through a study of twenty-four cases of white-on-white lynching and racial terror lynching. This thesis shows that lynching was employed as a means to enact fear to keep Black Ohioans in a marginalized position and prevent them from prospering economically or politically. The author also argues that journalists were not objective bystanders but were key to the social voice and national conversation that accepted the practice of lynching in America. By utilizing the concept of critical race theory, the author shows that the racist ideal of Whiteness was able to become hidden by seemingly objective reporting, thus allowing the mainstream press to accept the practice of lynching without the guilt of unlawful “justice.” There is also a paucity of research on Harry C. Smith, a Black journalist who pushed for the first anti-lynching law in Ohio. As such, this research aims to make a significant impact not only on the literature involving northern lynchings but also in the history of Ohio and the need to understand its dark past. In 2020 this historical research hold saliency regarding the racial violence which continues today in America.