On this dayFeb 22, 1898

Deadly White Mob Attacks Black Postmaster and Family in South Carolina

 Image | Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Frazier Baker was a 40-year-old black man, native of Florence County in Lake City, South Carolina, who was murdered by a lynch mob along with his infant daughter, Julia Baker. Mr. Baker was the first African American in Lake City elected as postmaster. Despite vehement opposition to his appointment from the white community, Mr. Baker held the position for six months. During the brief time between his career as postmaster and his murder, Mr. Baker was shot at twice and received many death threats.

The Bakers lived in a small building just outside the corporate limits of Lake City. Their home was formerly a schoolhouse and had recently been converted into a residential dwelling and post office. Reportedly, an unknown number of men circled the Baker house at night, set the building on fire, and shot seventy-five to one hundred bullets at the house. Mr. and Mrs. Baker and their six children were inside. Mrs. Baker and five of the children managed to escape death. All but two children were wounded by gunshots and maimed for life. As Mrs. Baker attempted to exit the burning house, carrying her infant daughter Julia, the baby was shot dead in her mother’s arms.

The local white media insensitively reported that Frazier and Julia Baker’s bodies were “cremated in the flames.” Both bodies were so badly marred and charred that it was not only hard to tell who they were but also what they were amidst the smoldered rubble of the Baker home. Parts of Mr. Baker’s body had been completely destroyed by the fire, only from the shoulder down being left. The building and all of the post office equipment were consumed by the fire, and the citizens of Lake City were left without a post office.

A large mass meeting was held at Pilgrim Baptist Church. Out of this meeting, a committee was appointed and a resolution was drafted expressing outrage for the Frazier’s murder. Still, no perpetrators were ever brought to justice.

About EJI

The Equal Justice Initiative works to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality.

Learn more

About this website

Until we confront our history of racial injustice and its legacy, we cannot overcome the racial bias that exists today.

Learn more