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A Lynching in the Heartland:
Indiana University professor James H. Madison tells the story behind one of America's most infamous photographs: the image of two black teenagers dangling from a tree after a 1930 lynching in Marion, Indiana. The photo, reproduced on the cover, draws its power not only from the dead boys but also from the "shameless faces" of the white onlookers. The lynching itself involved three black teenagers accused of killing a white man and raping a white woman. Two of the alleged perpetrators were dragged from their jail cells shortly after they supposedly confessed to the crimes; the third, James Cameron, survived only because the crowd came to its senses. He was eventually convicted of voluntary manslaughter (but not murder or rape), served his time, went on to lead a productive life, and was pardoned by the governor in 1993. No member of the lynch mob, however, was ever brought to justice--even though their acts were captured on film and witnessed by thousands. There are holes in the story--whether Mary Ball really was raped "will likely never be known," says Madison--but A Lynching in the Heartland succeeds at providing a detailed look at a horrible incident and its aftermath. --John Miller [via]