On this dayMar 31, 1914

Marie Scott Lynched in Wagoner County, Oklahoma

On March 31, 1914, a white lynch mob in Wagoner County, Oklahoma, seized a young black woman named Marie Scott from the local jail, dragged her screaming from her cell, and hanged her from a nearby telephone pole. Days before, a group of young white men had come to the “colored section” of the city and a white man named Lemuel Pierce was stabbed to death.

Mainstream local press reports included no description of the white youth’s activities in the black neighborhood, and claimed that Marie Scott, just 17 years old, stabbed Pierce with no provocation and in cold blood. The Associated Press wire report and accounts published by Northern papers, however, claimed that the white men came to the area to sexually assault black women and attempted to rape Marie Scott. In some of these accounts, Scott stabbed Pierce in self-defense, while other reports indicated that Pierce was killed by Scott's brother, and Marie Scott was only arrested and lynched because her brother escaped.

For generations of black women, racial terror included the constant threat of sexual assault and a complete lack of legal protection. The same communities that lynched and legally executed black men for the scarcest allegations of sexual contact with white women regularly tolerated and excused white men’s sexual attacks against black women and girls.

Given this history, Marie Scott may have been among the many black women targeted for sexual violence during this era by white men who knew that they would face no judgment or consequences for rampaging her community. Whether Marie Scott acted in her own defense or was protected by her brother, she died at the hands of a mob and as the victim of a society that devalued her life and body, and denied her right to be free from rape, fear, and racial terror.

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