Letter from NAACP Secretary Walter White to Governor Sholtz, 1934

Letter from NAACP Secretary Walter White to Governor Sholtz, 1934


October 30th 1934
Governor David Sholtz
Executive Department
Tallahassee, Florida

My dear Governor Sholtz:

I acknowledge receipt of your letter of October 27th in which you enclose copy of your statement to the press. It is most surprising to us to learn that the proposed lynching of Neal was not called to your attention until 6:50 in the evening. New York City is some twelve hundred miles from Marianna but the Associated Press telephoned us at three o'clock in the afternoon to read to us dispatches that they had received giving full details. Are we to understand that since the lynching did not occur earlier than ten p.m., and that you knew of it three hours and a half earlier, that it was impossible for the State of Florida and its Governor to dispatch troops a distance of only fifty miles from Tallahassee to Marianna?

We note also the distinction you raise that this was not a case of protecting a jail or a prisoner in the custody of an officer, but instead one of a Negro in the hands of a mob. Is the State of Florida obligated to prevent lynching and flouting of the law only when jail property is involved? The logical carrying out of such a principle would be an encouragement to officers to permit prisoners to be taken from them or to refrain from arresting them long enough to permit a mob to wreak its vengeance upon the helpless victims. Considerably more than one victim was lynched by the mob at Marianna, for decency, law and order, and the reputation of the State of Florida and its Governor were also assassinated at the hands of the mob. This case merely proves beyond all question, if any such further proof were needed, that federal legislation is imperative to end lynching.

Ever sincerely, Walter White [signed]