United States of America – The Anti-Lynching Act
On March 29, 2022, United States President Joe Biden signed the historic Emmett Till Antilynching Act. For the first time in the history of the United States of America, the lynchings of human beings is considered a hate crime. President Biden said, “Lynching was pure terror to enforce the lie that not everyone, not everyone, belongs in America, not everyone is created equal….Racial hate isn’t an old problem – it’s a persistent problem. Hate never goes away. It only hides.”
Throughout the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan was active throughout Santa Barbara County and the surrounding counties of Ventura, San Luis Obispo, and Kern.
In her book, The Mexican Outsiders, author Martha Menchaca, professor at the University of Texas, Austin, states that in 1923, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties held a KKK membership drive. The organization garnered more than 400 new members locally, through that effort.
In the October 26, 1923, edition of The American Hebrew, an article entitled, A Jew Answers Klan Hatred with Reason and Fact, the author advises that the Santa Barbara County branch of the KKK was distributing pamphlets (Ku Klux Klarion) threatening residents for “alleged misconduct and immorality.”
Samuel Adelstein, identified as “an American Jew,” paid for an ad to run in the Santa Barbara Daily News. Mr. Adelstein wrote, “The Kln stands for hatred. Hatred is blind, mentally and spiritually.” Mr. Adelstein said that Jewish tradition respects all churches, and that any issues of unlawful activity are adequately handled by authorities, without the need for mob violence or vigilantism.
In the 1920s, an effort between the NAACP and the Anti-Lynching Crusaders, a group of women with members throughout the United States, wrote an agreement stating that they wished to, “Unite a million women to stop lynching.” The Anti-Lynching Crusaders joined with the NAACP to continue the work of Ida B Wells, journalist, who spurred activists to promote legislation prohibiting the act of lynching human beings in the United States of America.
In November of 1922, the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill failed to pass, and similar bills failed for the next 100 years. Learn more about the history of lynching in California here, on KCET.
Leila Weeks Wilson, author of the book, Santa Barbara, California, written in 1913, describes tales of hangings in Santa Barbara. These lynchings were supposed to been performed at a large oak tree growing downtown, between Highway 101 – El Camino Real – and State Street.
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