They Lynched Her To Send A Message. But That Message Failed.

a close up of a window with a noose in view
Zain Murdock
May 3, 2024

In 1914, 17-year-old Marie Scott was sitting in an Oklahoma jail when a masked mob pushed their way in, tied up the jailer, stole his keys, and unlocked her cell. But it wasn’t to set her free. As she screamed for help, they dragged her to a telephone pole and hanged her from it. But though Scott’s story ended there, it began with resistance.

Days before, two white men wandered into the Black side of the town where Scott lived. Scott was changing in her room when they broke in and assaulted her. This time, when she screamed, her brother came running, kicking down the door. It’s unknown who stabbed one of the men. It could have been him. It could have been Marie.

For many, the South, with its large Black population was a place of shelter, camouflage, and economic opportunity. Free Black people could find jobs or buy land in the South. In the North, formerly enslaved people faced economic uncertainty and other possible threats.

And while thousands of Black men and boys were lynched to enforce what Joy James has described as “the mythology of a predatory, black, male sexual savagery” targeting white women, victims like Marie faced a different mythology. The spectacle of her murder reminded the town that Black women are sexual property, incapable of withholding consent.

But history remembers otherwise. Today, we know that Marie Scott said no. Her memory, along with centuries of other survivors and victims, challenges the violence of misogynoir, and is our foundation for resistance.

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