This Day in History

Oct. 21, 1916: African American Landowner Anthony Crawford Lynched

Time Periods: World War I: 1910 - 1919
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Racism & Racial Identity
Anthony Crawford | Zinn Education Project

Portrait of Anthony Crawford.

On Oct. 21, 1916, successful African American entrepreneur and community leader Anthony P. Crawford was murdered by a lynch mob in Abbeville, South Carolina.

In Hundreds Dedicate Lynching Marker to Anthony Crawford in Abbeville, South Carolina, the Equal Justice Initiative explains:

A century ago, a white mob beat, stabbed, shot, and hung Mr. Crawford, a 56-year-old Black farmer, in the Abbeville town square, after he dared to argue with a white merchant over the price of cottonseed.

The patriarch of a large, multi-generational family, and the owner of 427 acres of land, Mr. Crawford was a successful farmer and leader whose murder had long-reaching effects.

The gruesome public murder, though committed openly, did not lead to prosecution or conviction for any members of the mob.

Days after the lynching, Abbeville’s white residents “voted” to expel the Crawford family from the area and seize their property. When South Carolina’s governor declared himself powerless to protect the family from violence, most of the surviving relatives fled to destinations as distant as New York and Illinois, fragmenting the once strong and close-knit family.

Imagine the long term impact on Crawford’s family and descendants of losing their land and joining the Great Migration, forced to start from scratch in the North.

Learn more about Crawford’s story in, ‘Anthony Crawford – Father, Husband, Landowner, Farmer‘ and in the Equal Justice Initiative film below about the efforts to honor Crawford’s memory.