Feb. 17, 2021

Who Pays America For Edward Johnson's Final Moments

In 1906, Edward Johnson, a Black man, was convicted of raping a white woman and sentenced to death by an all-white jury in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His attorneys appealed the case and won a rare stay of execution from the United States Supreme Court. In response, a white mob seized Mr. Johnson from the jail, which had been vacated by the sheriff and his staff, dragged him through the streets, hanged him from the second span of the Walnut Street Bridge, and shot him hundreds of times. The mob left a note pinned on the corpse that read: “To Justice Harlan. Come get your nigger now.” Mr. Johnson used his last words to declare his innocence. Nearly a century later, he was cleared of the rape.