A response to the editorial, “Mr. President, this is what lynching really is”.
Written by Janice Kant, member of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement
I see the Tampa Bay Times finally acknowledged the lynching of John Evans in 1914 in St. Pete, but you failed to give “full disclosure” — that the St. Petersburg Daily Times and the Evening Independent completely instigated his lynching!
Inciting this violent terror was a common practice by newspapers around the country with sensational headlines and provocative, unsubstantiated charges whipping up white nationalism. They often printed the time and location like a press release to organize the white mobs to gather for the vigilante murder! William L. Straub, owner of the St. Pete Times in 1914, and other “prominent citizens” were seen participating in the lynch mob and are directly responsible for the murder of John Evans and the terror imposed on the black residents of St. Petersburg.
This was not just a random act of racist violence. It was just like the destruction of Rosewood Florida, Tulsa Oklahoma “Black Wall Street” and countless other incidents of white mob attacks on African people attempting to survive and carve out a modicum of independent economic or political power. White people stole and destroyed the property, land, livelihood, lives and future prosperity of individuals and whole communities for economic gain and political control.
St. Petersburg was no different — for days all African men in the “black quarters” were rounded up and newspapers actually documented the frantic scramble of families forced to flee their homes. Historians have detailed that the lynching was also covered up by the newspapers to protect the economic interests of the city — the newly developing lifestyle of leisure including fishing, agriculture, tourism and real estate.
As we know, lynchings were not just hangings but often days and hours of burning African human beings alive after cutting off genitals and other body parts for souvenirs, cutting out unborn babies and more horrendous torture.
Tampa Bay Times, this is what reparations really is for.
Tampa Bay Times owes reparations for the lynching of John Evans. Tampa Bay Times owes reparations for promoting and encouraging the violence of the police against the black community, for sensational headlines and stories criminalizing and attacking the integrity of African people, for promoting gentrification of south St. Pete pushing the African community out of the city, and much more.
Tampa Bay Times should join the many individuals, corporations, universities, banks and others who are acknowledging and paying reparations to African people, so we can have a truly progressive city.
John Evans was hung from a lightpost and his body riddled with bullets on land that was in the Gas Plant District. Tampa Bay Times needs to put in at least the first million dollars to the Reparations Land Trust promoted by City Council candidate Eritha Akile’ Cainion to give this the land back to the African community of St. Petersburg. Tampa Bay Times should also lead the charge to rename Straub Park and dedicate it to John Evans.
This is what taking responsibility means — for our violent history and for the wealth of our city that continues to come at the expense of the African community here. As a member of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, I have been contributing reparations to African people for years to begin to repay this debt. Join me.