To Negro Lee Jones, a 31-year-old mill-hand of Greensboro, Ala., last week's doings in the U. S. Senate were good news. Negro Jones had been arrested, charged with jumping on the running board of a car to kidnap Mrs. Robert Knox Greene, wife of a white planter. When Mrs. Greene's friends began to gather he did not need to be told what familiar, ugly thought they had in mind. At the crucial moment when Sheriff Calvin Hollis was trying to calm the crowd, up stepped Planter Robert Knox Greene himself. How Planter Greene, a cousin of Alabama's Representative Sam Hobbs, persuaded the mob to disperse he was soon explaining to the Associated Press. "I told them I was the aggrieved person," said he, with some self-satisfaction, "and I ought to have the final say. I also reminded them our Southern Senators were fighting an anti-lynching bill in Washington and violence might hamper them. . . ."
"Skunk Meat." Had it not been for Planter Greene's timely intervention, Millhand Jones might have been the first person to be lynched in the U. S. in 1938. There were eight lynchings in 1937, 13 in 1936. There have been some 5,000 in the U. S. since complete records began in 1882. There have been lynchings in every State in the Union save four—Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont. But if the practice has been general, the opposition to laws intended to suppress it has centred in the South. For two generations Southern Representatives and Senators have greeted every lynching bill that came up for debate with a reaction as sharp and unfailing as would be produced by a polecat. Snorted Georgia's Richard Russell last week of the latest and one of the most threatening Federal attempts to prosecute and punish lynchers: "Skunk meat."
Week previous to this pronouncement Kentuckian Alben Barkley had settled down to the bitterest of the many unpleasant tasks that he has had since he succeeded the late Joseph Taylor Robinson as Majority Leader of the Senate. Leader Barkley was paying for a serious mistake. Last August in the closing days of Congress, when every minute of the Senate's time was plotted out, he fell asleep at the switch. Senator King who was supposed to rise at a certain moment to present the District of Columbia Airport Bill, missed his cue and before Senator Barkley woke New York's Senator Wagner had the floor. Senator Wagner brought up the Wagner-Van Nuys Anti-Lynching Bill. Although Alben Barkley has cast a good Southern vote against anti-lynching bills in the past, he was caught in a legislative trap. To prevent a new filibuster from wrecking the closing hours of the session, he promised Senator Wagner if he would withdraw it for the time, that it would be considered, second only to the Farm Bill, next session.