Among The Subjects: Lynching – May 27, 1947

Helen Gahagan Douglas - trying to put an end to lynching in America.

Helen Gahagan Douglas – trying to put an end to lynching in America.

Click on the link here for Audio Player – ABC News Of Tomorrow – May 27, 1947 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

Some people may find it strange and unbelievable that, as late as 1947 the subject of Lynching and introducing anti-Lynching Laws was still very much a debated issue. That previous attempts at introducing laws to prevent this form of ugly racism were voted down, and it was a hot-button political argument, in that many who were in favor of such laws tacitly ignored them because they were afraid of upsetting the Southern vote which, in some cases meant re-election. So it was a daring move on the part of fledgling Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas to introduce anti-Lynching legislation one more time on Capitol Hill.

And on this May 27th in 1947, news was about an attempted lynching in North Carolina of Godwin Bush and the FBI investigation into the case. Representative Douglas was interviewed for this program and gives her views on the current state of attitude on Capitol Hill towards the subject of Lynching.

With this case, and another lynching just weeks before, it brought to light the desperate need to make Lynching a crime and to outlaw Mob rule. Douglas’ call for legislation would no doubt cause heated debate, but now public outcry was getting louder. And maybe this time the outcome would be different.

And a lot of other news was going on for this particular May day. Concerns over recovery in Europe were being echoed all over Capitol Hill. The Cold War was still at the forefront, with calls for an exclusion of the Soviet Union from involvement in setting up an Atomic Energy Commission. This came on the heels of a failure to agree on International Atomic Control during recent talks. Suggestions went further, with calls for excluding the Soviet Union from the United Nations altogether since, as was pointed out, it was easier to get along without them as it was to get along with them.

And on the subject of Atomic Energy, there was still debate, discovery and speculation over the effects of Atomic Testing, currently going on. It wasn’t clearly known how dangerous or how long-lasting exposure to radiation from these blasts would have on life and the atmosphere. Interviewed was Dr. Herman Muller, Professor of Zoology at the University of Indiana on the subject, and the answer was pretty much nobody knew. There was speculation the after affect of a blast and the associated cloud could wipe out life in an area the size of Illinois. But beyond that, it was all guessing and scenarios.

And a lot of guessing was the order of the day for this May 27th in 1947, as reported on ABC Radio’s Headline Edition.

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