George White: In the Dead Fire’s Ashes

Thank you, Dr. Ray Thompson, of the Nabb Research Center of Salisbury University, for taking the several steps it took to borrow the film In the Dead Fire’s Ashes from the University of Delaware so that I could watch it.  I am a late bloomer, having watched it for the first time although the film was made nearly a decade ago.  The documentary is about the 1903 lynching of George White near Wilmington, Delaware.  If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to do so.

It was also interesting listening to the historians who spoke throughout the movie, particularly historian Dennis Downey and author Phillip Drey.

Although it was Delaware’s only spectacle lynching, do not let that low number fool you or lull you into thinking that race relations was any better than that of the region.  The term lynching, largely attributed to the murder of African Americans, was used to describe hangings, beatings, burnings and more.  George White was horrifically burned at the stake.  And with many lynchings, they were often accompanied by other violence and lesser-reported deaths.  These are difficult histories to face but from them there are lessons to be learned.  The film is interesting and informative with historical context; a shame it is not readily available or for sale, as far as I know.

–Linda Duyer

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