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Postmaster Frazier Baker and his younger daughter had been lynched in South Carolina on February 22, 1898

Lake City whites were concerned about a black being given a position of authority over what was happening throughout the south during the rebuilding process. We are seeing the same reactions today, not just in the south.

Ericka Benedicto, who wrote for Black Past, described the horror in "Lynching Julia and Frazier Baker (1898)":

On February 22, 1898, Lavinia woke up around 1:00 a.m. to find that her house – which also served as a post office – had been set on fire by a crowd of whites. Lavinia quickly alerted Baker, who immediately tried to put out the fire. Lavinia then took her youngest child, two-year-old Julia, in her arms and took the other five children together.

Desperate to keep his family out of harm's way, Baker opened the front door, but gunfire hit him in the head and body, killing him as he fell backward into the blazing building. Lavinia was also shot while escaping. She was hit in the forearm, causing her to drop Julia. The bullet that struck Lavinia also fatally shot Julia. Both Baker and his young daughter Julia lay dead on the floor as flames consumed their bodies.

Lavinia and her surviving children fled to a neighbor's house. There she saw the critical gunshot wounds of three of her children. Notably, two of her children were physically unharmed.

The Equal Justice Initiative reported the following injustice.

The remains of Mr. Frazier and Juliet were cremated beyond recognition – the local white newspaper insensibly reported that they had been "cremated in the flames". The federal post office and all its equipment were consumed in the fire, and the citizens of Lake City no longer had a post office.

Members of the Black Community held a mass gathering at the Pilgrim Baptist Church and drafted a public statement expressing their outrage over the lynching. The murder sparked a national campaign of letters, activism, and advocacy led by Ida B. Wells and others that eventually persuaded President McKinley to order a federal investigation into the prosecution of 11 white men who were involved in the lynching Baker were involved. Despite abundant evidence, an all-white jury refused to convict any of the accused.

Failure to receive convictions for crimes committed by white supremacists against blacks continues. Black “history” is also our black reality today.

For more details, I suggest that you read Trichita M. Chestnut's article "Lynching: Ida B. Wells-Barnett and the Outrage over the Frazier Baker Murder" in the prologue.

In 2019, 121 years after his lynching, the Lake City post office was renamed in his honor. South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn was interviewed for this story and talked about not knowing this story.

Although we banish focus on black history to one month of the year, it is clear that we need to make sure that it becomes part of "history" as taught in our schools.

If you're wondering what happened to the Baker family, Michael Eli Dokosi, who wrote for Face2FaceAfrica, reported:

The all-white jury was made up of business people from across the state. Newham, the prosecutor's star witness, admitted to starting the fire and identified eight of the accused as implicated in the killings.

The jury deliberated around 24 hours before declaring a mistrial. The jury was stuck when it came to a verdict, five to five. The case was never repeated.

Lavinia Baker and her five surviving children stayed in Charleston for a few months after the verdict before settling near Boston.

The bakers stayed in Boston, but outside of public life. The surviving Baker children fell victim to a tuberculosis epidemic with four children {William; Sarah; Lincoln, Cora} dies of the disease 1908-1920. Lavinia’s last surviving child, Rosa Baker, died in 1942. After Lavinia Baker lost all of her children, she returned to Florence County, where she lived until her life death in Cartersville, South Carolina in 1947.

None of the victims of racial violence in this nation will "rest in peace" until we remove the racism that led to their death.

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