Racial Terror and Lynching
Preston Porter Jr. was one of thousands of Black people lynched in the United States. Torn from their families; denied legal protection; cruelly killed; they were targeted by White terrorists who aimed to intimidate all Black people, enforce racial segregation, and reinforce White supremacy. After the Civil War (1861-1865), fierce resistance to equal rights for African Americans triggered a wide-spread terror campaign against women, men, and children accused of violating social customs, engaging in interracial relationships, or committing crimes.
For decades, racial lynching persisted as the most lethal, public, and notorious means of dehumanizing, degrading, and terrorizing Black Americans. Sadistic mobs, sometimes numbering in the thousands, tortured, mutilated, beat, hanged, burned, and otherwise killed Black citizens. Sheriffs and other officials usually allowed lynchers to act without fear of prosecution for their crimes. Those who resisted lynching, particularly in the South, risked retaliation. Not recorded by name and denied proper burial; many victims remain unknown.
Other Lynching Victims in Colorado
At least 160 people were killed by mobs in Colorado between 1859 and 1919. In some instances, the victim's ancestry played a role as the dominant society attempted to assert its power and superiority. In Colorado seven lynched African-Americans have so far been recorded: Edward Bainbridge (1867-Georgetown), an unidentified man (1874-Prowers County), "Black Kid" Thomas (1881-Silverton), Joseph Dixon (1887-Ouray), Calvin Kimblern (1900-Pueblo), Preston Porter Jr. (1900-near Limon), and Washington Wallace (1902-LaJunta).
In addition, there were at least nineteen people of Hispanic ancestry, at least four of Italian ancestry, and at least two of Chinese ancestry, who suffered death at the hands of lynchers. Among them were Look Young (Chinese, Denver-1880), Daniel Arata (Italian, Denver-1893), José Gonzales and Salvadore Ortez (Mexican, Pueblo-1919). Religious prejudice also played a part in lynching as was the case in the death of Jacob Weisskind, a Jewish laborer so badly beaten by a Denver mob on December 25, 1900 that he died in early 1901.