Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

October 5, 1946

Guest post by Morgan Quartulli, undergraduate student at Manhattan College.

On October 5, 1946, the Chicago Defender featured an article on Florence, South Carolina, where 135 black men had been arrested for actively shooting from a moving train. Military police had made this accusation and picked out each suspect specifically. Civilians of Florence wanted to know how 15 to 20 officers could pick out 135 men from the 250 aboard the train as taking part in the fight that lasted only five minutes. Sheriff Dan Clarke dismissed the accusations because none of the men were armed. However it did appear as if someone was targeting them due to the injuries sustained by Charles Green, one of the accused. The Army remained silent about the case.

This article interested me because of the reasonable approach that the sheriff had toward the case. He didn’t jump to conclusions due to racial biases, instead ruling in favor of the accused. Both the innocent and persecuted men were forced to pay fines when they pleaded guilty to crimes they didn’t commit. Unfortunately, in order for them to be released faster, that was their only option. In total the fines accumulated were $2,531.

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