“A Woman Lynched” read a headline in The New York Times on Aug. 20, 1886. A mob had taken “Eliza Woods, colored” from a jail in Jackson, Tenn., and hanged her for supposedly poisoning her employer.
The journalist Ida B. Wells protested the lynching in an editorial for The Gate City Press, a black newspaper in Kansas City, Mo. Eliza Woods “was taken from the county jail and stripped naked and hung up in the courthouse yard and her body riddled with bullets and left exposed to view!” Wells later wrote in her diary. “Oh, my God! Can such things be and no justice for it?”
At least 130 black women were murdered by lynch mobs from 1880 to 1930. This violence against black women has long been ignored or forgotten. Not anymore. Eliza Woods’s name is now engraved on one of the 800 weathered steel columns hanging from the ceiling of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opened Thursday in Montgomery, Ala.