His Murder Exposed The Depths Of American Racism

Man in cowboy hat watching horses
Shonda Buchanan
September 23, 2020

Jim McIlherron wasn’t afraid of the young white men with rocks in their hands. His daddy taught him to never back down to their white neighbors – they were just envious of the McIlherron’s wealth.

He even had the gall to threaten the local Sheriff! Why was his self-respect so threatening to the white boys? Well, you’ll see.

Jim had been the victim of a “rocking” before in Estill Springs, Tennessee. If it ever happened again, he warned, someone was “going to get hurt!”

He didn’t know his family’s Black pride would be the match that lit a violent fire.

When one of their rocks clipped him, he exploded in anger – shooting two of them dead on the spot and wounding the third. He had warned them! But his self-defense was too much.

What would the town do?

When the bloodthirsty mob found him, they burned down the building he was in, shot out one of his eyes, and chained him to a tree. And it gets worse. 

They laughed while heated iron bars soldered off his skin and his flesh slowly roasted. Finally, he was set on fire. But he cursed his torturers until his last breath.

His tragic death reminds us that we have a right to defend ourselves! Even when they persecute us, we must fight and resist brutal racists, keeping our self-respect in the face of oppression!

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