On this dayMar 31, 1914

Marie Scott Lynched in Wagoner County, Oklahoma

Image | Cowetta Times-Star

On March 31, 1914, a white lynch mob in Wagoner County, Oklahoma, seized a 17-year-old black teenaged girl named Marie Scott from the local jail, dragged her screaming from her cell, and hanged her from a nearby telephone pole. Days before, a young white man named Lemuel Pierce was stabbed to death while he and several other white men were in the city's "colored section"; Marie was accused of being involved.

The Associated Press wire report and accounts published by Northern papers explained that the group of white men had ventured into the black residential area to sexually assault black women and attempted to rape Marie Scott. According to some of these accounts, Marie stabbed Pierce in self-defense; in others, Marie's brother killed Pierce in an effort to defend her, and Marie was only arrested and lynched because her brother escaped. Local press reports, on the other hand, didn't say anything about why the white youth were in the black neighborhood or what they did while there, and simply claimed that Marie Scott stabbed Pierce unprovoked and in cold blood. 

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 she acted in her own defense or was protected by her brother, Marie Scott died at the hands of a mob, the victim of a society that devalued her life and body; deprived her of the chance to defend herself at trial; and denied her right to be free from rape, fear, and racial terror.

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