On this dayOct 05, 1920

Four Innocent Black Men Lynched in Macclenny, Florida

Hutchinson News

On October 5, 1920, a white mob lynched four innocent Black men named Fulton Smith, Ray Field, Ben Givens, and Sam Duncan in Macclenny, Florida. According to news reports at the time, a prominent young white farmer named John Harvey was shot and killed at a turpentine camp near Macclenny on October 4. The suspected shooter, a young Black man named Jim Givens, fled immediately afterward, and mobs of armed white men formed to pursue him. Mr. Givens’s brother, Ben Givens, and two other Black men connected to him—Mr. Smith and Mr. Field—were questioned and jailed during the search. Though there was no evidence or accusation that they had been involved in Mr. Harvey's killing, they were held simply for having a connection to the man the mob wanted.

At around 1 am on October 5, a mob of about 50 white men overtook the jail, seized the three men from their cells, and took them to the outskirts of town, where they tied them to trees and shot them to death. A fourth Black man, Sam Duncan, was found shot to death nearby later in the day. He also had no ties to the killing of John Harvey and was thought to have been killed by the mob simply for being a Black man who they encountered. 

Three days later, the Chicago Defender, a Northern Black newspaper, reported that white mobs continued to search for Jim Givens while most of the Black community of Macclenny had fled the area in fear of further violent attacks.

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