Rope & Faggot

Walter WHITE

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FIRST EDITION OF WALTER WHITE'S ATTACK ON LYNCHING, ROPE & FAGGOT, 1929—"THE FIRST FULL-LENGTH INDICTMENT OF LYNCHING OF ITS TIME"

WHITE, Walter. Rope & Faggot. A Biography of Judge Lynch. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, (1929). Octavo, original yellow cloth.

First edition of the NAACP leader's ground-breaking "authoritative analysis of the extent and causes of lynching," based on eyewitness accounts of nearly 50 lynchings and a decade of harrowing undercover work.

A leader in the NAACP and the Harlem Renaissance, White was one of America's " most renowned and influential civil rights advocates." Upon joining the NAACP in 1918, the light-complexioned White "requested permission to investigate the lynching of an African American sharecropper in Tennessee… He continued to pass for white in an attempt to expose the magnitude and severity of the lynching epidemic in the South. He even went so far as to infiltrate… the KKK. Although his deception was eventually discovered and his life threatened, White was nonetheless successful in obtaining incriminating evidence against the Klan… The culmination of more than a decade of hands-on research, Rope and Faggot was the first full-length indictment of lynching of its time" (Encyclopedia of American Race Riots, VII:570-71).

In his dangerous research White investigated nearly 50 lynchings and numerous race riots, approaching "members of lynch mobs and other whites who had witnessed or were involved in racial violence… On more than one occasion he narrowly escaped vigilantes who discovered his true identity" (New Georgia Encyclopedia). Aided by a Guggenheim grant, White spent a year in France completing the book, which firmly "debunked southern whites' big lie that lynching punished black men for raping white women… [and] identified the maintenance of the plantation economy and its attendant sharecropping and peonage system as a principle stimulus for mob terror… In presenting the harsh truth about lynching, White showed himself to be a passionate, consistent and articulate pursuer of racial justice" (Janken, Walter White, 119-127). White, who would continue to fight for a federal anti-lynching law, here indicts lynching as "a curse to America." He concludes by noting that without immediate action, "sad and terrible days, not only for the lynching states, but for all of America, seem inevitable." This searing work "is still considered an authoritative analysis of the extent and causes of lynching" (New Georgia Encyclopedia). With frontispiece from a lithograph by George W. Bellows; without scarce dust jacket. Blockson 10495.

Only faintest soiling to bright cloth. A fine copy.

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