Updated: September 23, 2010
is with deep regret that we must share the news of the passing of
filmmaker, author, and friend, Gode Davis.
Gode, a prolific writer and engaging public speaker, touched the lives of a great many people though his work. His commitment to educating the American public about our nation's history of racial violence, particularly through his dedication to the American Lynching film project, was unflagging, despite the financial and health hardships he tackled over the years. Gode was a social crusader, a man with the courage of his convictions, and a wise friend. He will be greatly missed.
If you'd like to contribute a message of condolence or remembrance, feel free to email AmericanLynching at gmail dot com.
Click here to read the revised treatment for AMERICAN LYNCHING.
To lynch means to execute or punish violently, without a lawful trial. It implies a mob's action and involves at least three persons perpetrating the lynching -- although many "borderline" and less rigidly defined incidents have occurred. The outcome of a lynching has come to mean a killing, or fatal consequence, especially since the early twentieth century. The phenomenon, both shameful and tragic, has long been forged into our nation's history. To examine historical lynching is like probing the darkest recesses of the American soul. Victims have primarily been marginalized Americans: eccentrics and immigrants, union agitators, desperados, homosexuals, abolitionists, Mexican-Americans and eventually thousands of African-Americans -- those "strange fruit" first characterized by Abel Meeropol (a.k.a. Lewis Allan) in a memorable 1935 poem. Lynching or scenes depicting lynching have served as brief tangents in numerous films and documentaries. A case study involving lynching survivor Dr. James Cameron served as the focus for two unrelated 30-minute programs -- one shown as an "Everyman" British television series segment and the other, "A Lynching in Marion," aired only on the PBS Milwaukee affiliate. Partly due to this conspicuous lack of coverage, project director Gode Davis seeks funding to develop the film "American Lynching" -- the first feature-length documentary to make lynching its topic.
This documentary explores racist events and attitudes indigenous to the Northern and Southern states that either condoned or condemned lynching as a practice. It clearly depicts those events that directly contributed to establishing lynching as an intimidating tool. An evolving national dialogue ultimately causing lynching to be discredited is portrayed. The essence of lynching as a phenomenon includes elements that were recorded in many forms -- journalism, essays, photographs, sound recordings, and especially the experiences of many people still alive who were involved in or were intimately affected by a lynching. Much of the content to be accessed for "American Lynching" is emerging from this rich and diverse archive of materials.
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