Author: Douglas Smith

an adjunct assistant professor of history and American studies at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. This entry is excerpted from chapter six of his book, Managing White Supremacy: Race, Politics, and Citizenship in Jim Crow Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002)
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Cox, Earnest Sevier (1880–1966)

Earnest Sevier Cox was a committed white supremacist who advocated on behalf of anti-miscegenation laws and in 1922 cofounded with the composer John Powell the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America, a Richmond-based, nationwide organization devoted to maintaining a strict separation of the races. In 1923, Cox published White America, a book that described his travels in Africa and argues that race-mixing would result in the collapse of “white civilization.” He also wrote extensively on eugenics, a now discredited scientific movement aimed at proving the superiority of the white race. Together with composer Powell and Virginia state registrar Walter Plecker, Cox played an influential role in lobbying the Virginia General Assembly to pass the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, a strict anti-miscegenation law, and later the Massenburg Bill, which banned racial mixing in all public places. In 1924, Cox formed an unlikely alliance with the black nationalist Marcus Garvey based on their shared belief that the only way to save the races was for African Americans to relocate to Africa. Cox retired from the real estate business in 1958 and died in Richmond in 1966.

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Anti-Lynching Law of 1928

The Virginia Anti-Lynching Law of 1928, signed by Virginia governor Harry Flood Byrd Sr. on March 14, 1928, was the first measure in the nation that defined lynching specifically as a state crime. The bill’s enactment marked the culmination of a campaign waged by Louis Isaac Jaffé, the editor of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, who responded more forcefully than any other white Virginian to an increase in mob violence in the mid-1920s. Jaffé’s efforts, however, which earned him a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 1929, came to fruition only after the state’s political and business leadership recognized that mob violence was a threat to their efforts to attract business and industry. Ironically, no white person was ever convicted of lynching an African American under the law.

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