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Lynching, the practice of killing people by extrajudicial mob action, occurred in the United States chiefly from the late 18th century through the 1960s. Lynchings took place most frequently in the Southern United States from 1890 to the 1920s, with a peak in the annual toll in 1892. However, lynchings were also very common in the Old West. It is associated with re-imposition of white supremacy in the South after the Civil War. The granting of U.S. Constitutional rights to freedmen in the Reconstruction era (1865–77) aroused anxieties among American citizens, who came to blame African Americans for their own wartime hardship, economic loss, and forfeiture of social privilege. Black Americans, and Whites active in the pursuit of integration rights, were sometimes lynched in the South during Reconstruction. Lynchings reached a peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Southern states changed their constitutions and electoral rules to disfranchise most blacks and many poor whites, and, having regained political power, enacted a series of segregation and Jim Crow laws to reestablish White supremacy. Notable lynchings of integration rights workers during the 1960s in Mississippi contributed to galvanizing public support for the Civil Rights Movement and civil rights legislation. The Tuskegee Institute has recorded 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites were lynched between 1882 and 1968. Southern states created new constitutions between 1890 and 1910, with provisions that effectively disfranchised most blacks, as well as many poor whites. People who did not vote were excluded from serving on juries, and most blacks were shut out of the official political system.
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Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931) was an African-American journalist, newspaper editor and, with her husband, newspaper owner Ferdinand L. Barnett, an early leader in the civil rights movement. She documented lynching in the United States, showing how it was often a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites. She was active in the women's rights and the women's suffrage movement, establishing several notable women's organizations. Wells was a skilled and persuasive rhetorician, and traveled internationally on lecture tours.
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