Scholar to speak on “Lynching in the American South” Sept. 3 at UAB’s AEIVA

Elwood M. Beck is one of the world’s leading scholars on the topic of lynching. This event is in conjunction with the AEIVA exhibition “Mary Frances Whitfield: Why?”

Lynch3Mary Frances Whitfield, "Mary," 1994, watercolor and acrylic on canvas board, 16 x 20 inches width. Photo: Adam Grimshaw, courtesy Phyllis Stigliano Art Projects.Scholar Elwood M. Beck, whose research explores the relationship between social and economic change in the American South and violence against blacks, will speak at the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

The 6 p.m. lecture at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts is in conjunction with the AEIVA exhibition “Mary Frances Whitfield: Why?” The lecture is presented by UAB’s AEIVA, the UAB Office of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion and the Jefferson County Memorial Project. 

Beck will discuss how lynching is defined and its use as a tool to maintain social order; lynching as a moral norm for justice; why reconciling with this history is important despite its difficulties; the remnants of lynching on today’s society, including lynching influences on the American justice system, government, media perceptions/storytelling, policing, and economics; and answering the question “Is lynching behind us, or does it continue in some evolved form?”

Beck is the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia. He has written more than 60 papers and is the co-author of “A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings 1882-1930,” a winner of the Social Science History Association President’s Book Award and other awards. He spent more than four years compiling an inventory of threatened, failed and averted lynchings; presently he is investigating factors influencing whether local authorities intervened to stop mob violence.