On this dayOct 05, 1920

Four Innocent Black Men Lynched in Macclenny, Florida

Image | The Hutchinson News

On October 5, 1920, a white mob lynched four 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. Givens’s brother, Ben Givens, and two other black men connected to him -- Smith and Field -- were questioned and jailed during the search. Though there was no evidence or accusation that they had been involved in the killing of Harvey, they were held simply for having a connection to the man the mob wanted.

Around 1 a.m. on October 5, a mob of about fifty white men overtook the jail and seized the three men from their cells, took them to the outskirts of town, 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 alleged ties to the killing of John Harvey, and was thought to be an unfortunate soul who had encountered the mob and been killed simply for being a black man.

Three days later, the Chicago Defender, a Northern black newspaper, reported that white posses 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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