By Gabrielle Lewis, Victoria Ifatusin & Jamille Whitlow
The Howard Center For Investigative Journalism
It was May 18, 1918, and Mary Turner was grieving. Her husband, Hayes Turner, had been lynched without a trial, accusedof being an accomplice in the murder of a white farmer. Her unborn baby would be raised without a father. Infuriated by the injustice, she threatened to ask the courts to punish his killers.
The next day, Mary Turner was dead. Her naked, burned body, pierced by hundreds of bullets, hung from a tree byFolsom’s Bridge, 16 miles north of Valdosta, Georgia. Her abdomen had been cut open. Her baby, a month shy of being born, lay on the ground dead, its head crushed by a member of a white lynch mob who stomped on its skull.
When the Valdosta Daily Times, a white-owned newspaper, described the reason for her death, it said “her talk enraged” local citizens.
“The people in their indignant mood took exceptions to her remarks as well as her attitude,” the newspaper said, “and took her to the river where she was hanged.”
What that newspaper — and other white-owned newspapers — omitted were the gruesome details of her lynching. They failed to mention she was eight months pregnant, and her unborn baby was killed.
After Turner’s murder, the Daily Times reported, “Posses are to-night looking for other negroes … and feeling among both whites and blacks seems to be growing more intense.”
Turner was one of at least 11 victims in Georgia’s Lowndes and Brooks counties during what became known as the Lynching Rampage of 1918.