The Transmission of Historical Racial Violence: Lynching, Civil Rights-Era Terror, and Contemporary Interracial Homicide

Race and Justice, 1-30, 2015

30 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2016

See all articles by Nicholas Petersen

Nicholas Petersen

University of Miami ; University of California, Irvine

Geoff Ward

University of California, Irvine - Department of Criminology, Law and Society

Date Written: February 22, 2016

Abstract

Research finds that historic racial violence helps predict spatial distributions of contemporary outcomes, including homicide. These findings underscore the continued need to historicize modern race relations, yet intervening processes linking past violence with present events remain unclear. This study examines these intermediary mechanisms by reducing the century-long time-lapse common to legacy of racial violence research. We use mid-century measures of violent opposition to the Civil Rights Movement to bridge the historical gap between lynchings and later homicide, thus clarifying the dynamic and contingent nature of the legacy of racial violence. Structural equation models indicate that incidents of anti-civil rights enforcement and contemporary homicides are more likely to occur in areas with pronounced histories of lynching. Civil rights era assaults mediate the relationship between lynchings and contemporary homicide generally, but not White-on-Black homicide, signaling a need for further research documenting events of mid-century racial violence and clarifying these and other sources of historical transmission. Implications for future research and public policy are considered.

Keywords: subculture of violence, criminological theories, lynching, race and death penalty, hate/ bias crimes, victimization, homicides, interracial crime

Suggested Citation

Petersen, Nicholas and Ward, Geoff, The Transmission of Historical Racial Violence: Lynching, Civil Rights-Era Terror, and Contemporary Interracial Homicide (February 22, 2016). Race and Justice, 1-30, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2736664

Nicholas Petersen (Contact Author)

University of Miami ( email )

Coral Gables, FL 33124
United States

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

Geoff Ward

University of California, Irvine - Department of Criminology, Law and Society ( email )

2340 Social Ecology 2, RM
Irvine, CA 92697
United States

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