I remember studying the civil war and slavery briefly in school and Jim Crow was studied even more briefly, but very little focus was put on the Reconstruction era (1865-1877) and the Black Nadir. Many people don’t know that the era of lynching gang rape really increased after slavery. Prior to slavery it wasn’t in the interest of the slave owners to lynch their Black slaves because they needed them for profit. This is why after slavery lynching picked up and continued up until the twentieth century. But, what is even less talked about is the gang rape and sexual abuse of Black women by racist white men. The recent book at the Dark End of the Street discussed the institutional rape of Black women during Jim Crow. However, even during the Reconstruction era, Black women were being gang raped and sexuallyabused by racist white men. Many of these assaults were reported to the Freedmen’s Bureau. One record of a rape is that of Rhoda Ann Childs.
Rhoda Ann Childs was a Black woman who lived in Georgia. Her husband had fought in the civil war on the Union side. One night, while her husband was away, eight white men abducted her and dragged her away from her home and decided to make her pay for her husband fighting for the Union. In her own words, Rhoda Ann Childs describes the horrifying experience, be forewarned this is a GRAPHIC account.
“They then seized me and took me some distance from the house, where they bucked me down across a log, stripped my clothes over my head, one of the men standing astride my neck, and two men holding my legs. In this position I was beaten with a strap until they were tired. Then they turned me parallel with the log, laying my neck on a limb which projected from the log, and one man placing his foot upon my neck, beat me again on my hip and thigh. Then I was thrown upon the ground on my back, one of the men stood upon my breast, while the two other took hold of my feet and stretched my limbs as far apart as they could, while the man standing upon my breast applied the strap to my private parts until fatigued into stopping and I was more dead than alive. Then a man, I supposed a confederate soldier…fell upon me and ravished me. During the whipping, one of the men ran his pistol into me and she said he ‘had a hell of a min to pull the trigger,’ and swore they ought to shoot me as my husband had been in the ‘God damned Yankee army,’ and swore they meant to kill every black son-of-a-bitch they could find that had ever fought against them. They then went to the house, seized my two daughters and beat them, demanding their father’s pistol, and upon failure to get that, they entered the house and took such articles of clothing suited their fancy and decamped.” (161-162)