Photography: Blood At The Root

In a shattering new photo book and exhibition, the atrocity that was lynching is held up to the light

You probably think murder is something to be ashamed of. But you weren't part of the crowd that gathered after the lynching in 1915 of Thomas Brooks in Fayette County, Tenn. "Hundreds of Kodaks clicked all morning at the scene," an observer wrote later in the Crisis, the publication of the N.A.A.C.P. "People in automobiles and carriages came from miles around to view the corpse dangling from the end of a rope. Picture-card photographers installed a portable printing press at the bridge."

Lynching was a form of terror, which is murder with a message to send. In the last decades of...

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