Episode 223: Guy Lancaster

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Guy Lancaster is the editor of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture in Little Rock. He is also one of the foremost historians of lynching in America. American Atrocity is his most recent book.

American Atrocity focuses on Arkansas, but it tells a larger story of lynching and race relations in America. Dr. Lancaster, a native of Arkansas, also gets to the heart of the matter by asking: what is a lynching? And how do we know actually happened in many of these instances? The short answer is: we don't. And what we know or don't know has a lot to do with the history of race in this country, where white people were believed without question when they accused an African American person of a crime.

Mixing traditional primary source research with theory about race, Guy has written an important book. But as he and Colin discuss, lynching hasn't disappeared, it has instead only changed. What can events like the killing of Trayvon Martin and the attacks of January 6 tell us about the legacy of lynching and the continued problem of systematic racism in this country? Lynching is a heavy topic, but these are heavy times.

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