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Willie James Howard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Willie James Howard was a young African-American man living in Suwannee County, Florida, who was lynched for having written a postcard to a young white girl (his co-worker in a dime store), on January 2, 1944. The girl's father, Phil Goff, and two other men went to Willie's house and took the youth from his mother. They picked up his father at gunpoint, bound Willie by the hands and feet, and forced him to jump into the Suwannee River with his father watching. Harry T. Moore, of the NAACP, interviewed the parents (who had sold their house and moved to Orlando) and got a federal investigation started, but no convictions followed; the murderers died without having to pay for their crime.[1]

A documentary film on the murder, Murder on the Suwannee River, was produced in 2006 by Marvin Dunn, a historian, who tried to get Charlie Crist, then attorney general and later governor of Florida, to reopen the case, but to no avail; neither was his case investigated under the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act.[2] It is frequently cited as comparable to the case of Emmett Till, who was also lynched (at age 14) for allegedly making advances at a white woman at a grocery store.[3]


  1. ^ Wethersbee, Tonya J. (August 29, 2015). "Before Emmett Till's Death, Willie James Howard, 15, Was Murdered in Fla". The Root. Retrieved March 8, 2018. 
  2. ^ Newton, Michael (2016). Unsolved Civil Rights Murder Cases, 1934-1970. McFarland. pp. 129–30. ISBN 9780786498956. 
  3. ^ Kirchmeier, Jeffrey L. (2015). Imprisoned by the Past: Warren McCleskey and the American Death Penalty. Oxford University Press. p. 122. ISBN 9780199967933. 

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This page was last edited on 18 September 2018, at 08:13
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