Mob Lynching Black Men (Famous Photograph)

“Mob Lynching Black Men” is a famous photograph by Lawrence Beitler. Two black men were lynched and hanged by a mob of 10,000 white people in the USA. Let’s learn the story behind this iconic photograph.

The notion that we are living in the most peaceful and safe times of the human history could be correct. But even if it is true, we have not really left barbarity too far behind. Today’s iconic photograph is a burning example of how humans can become mentally blind and go on doing deeds befitting monsters. This photograph was taken, not ages ago, but on 7 August 1930. Photographer Lawrence Beitler took the photograph of two unfortunate, innocent, black young men who became the target of a mob of about 10,000 white people.

These two black men were lynched by a mob of 10,000 white people. Photographer: Lawrence Beitler.

These two black men were lynched by a mob of 10,000 white people. Photographer: Lawrence Beitler.

It happened in Marion, Indiana, USA. The mob dragged three black men out of a country jailhouse. The trio was accused by a teenager of raping his white girlfriend the previous night. Enraged crowd, wanting to establish the authority of white supremacy, attacked the jailhouse and captured these three men. The mob beat them, stabbed them and eventually hanged two of them (Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith) on trees. The third man (James Cameron) was saved by girl’s uncle by proclaiming his innocence.

You can see happy, smug and proud white faces visible in the photograph. The photograph instantly became famous and Beitler had to print thousands of copies in order to meet the demand. Later on, it was James Cameron who narrated the events in details. Cameron was 16 at that time while Shipp was 19 and Smith was also 19 years old.

And by the way, the accusations leveled against three men were later found to be baseless. I have written about a number of famous war related photographs where soldiers kill each other. That’s the nature of battlefield. But what could be said about when the so-called “civilized” society commit such heinous act of killing innocent people just because their skin-color is different… or may be just because they follow a different faith?

What do you think of this photograph? Please comment and give your feedback as it helps me in writing better content for my readers. Thank you for reading and stay connected with my website as I will continue to bring stories on more iconic photographs for you.

Lalit Kumar is a web explorer and founder of He loves finding useful things on Internet and knows how to put them together to create a bigger solution. He is passionate about technology, languages and literature. Sign-up for email newsletter for receiving technology tips.


  1. Kavita Prasad says

    Lynching is anyway illegal execution. The murderer and rapist have to be punished no matter whether he is black or white… (Felt even bad after reading last lines)

    They might believe that this attempt would terrorize blacks into remaining subservient while allowing whites to regain their sense of status.


    • milt says

      Look at every proud face in this picture and just think, if there is a God, what are they thinking now……………

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