Burnt Cork and Crime



Burnt Cork and Crime


Pamphlet published by the Commission on Interracial Cooperation, an organization which opposed lynching and promoted interracial dialogue and cooperation.

Described on the cover as "stories summarized from press reports," the pamphlets relates incidents in which crimes were committed by persons posing as African Americans. These imposters blackened their faces and hands with burnt cork. 

Other stories describe false accusations by whites, and often white women, against black men. 

Excerpt from p.1
"In St. Louis some time ago a robber caught with blackened face stated that there was an organized group of white bandits who always operated under the mask of color. In this way, he said, it was easy to fool the officers, and in some cases even to assist in the search for the suspected Negro and 'identify' him when caught."

p. 6 "The meaning is obvious, however, as it relates to hasty judgment, hysteria, mob violence, and the assumption that every Negro is guilty who anybody seeks to accuse. It suggests also that the statistics of Negro crime, now happily changing for the better, might be further lightened if all the facts were known and the mask of color torn away."


Commission on Interracial Cooperation


Race Relations Pamphlets, Special Collections, William Smith Morton Library, Union Presbyterian Seminary


Union Presbyterian Seminary Library


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The copyright and related rights status of this Item has been reviewed by the organization that has made the Item available, but the organization was unable to make a conclusive determination as to the copyright status of the Item. Please refer to the organization that has made the Item available for more information. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use.


Learn more: 

Commission on Interracial Cooperation, Social Welfare History Image Portal

Pullen, Ann Ellis (2013). "Commission on Interracial Cooperation" New Georgia Encyclopedia.


Commission on Interracial Cooperation, “Burnt Cork and Crime,” Social Welfare History Image Portal, accessed July 27, 2021, https://images.socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/items/show/529.