It would have been futile to call out the militia
New Masses, November 6, 1934
The title of this illustration refers to the violent torture and lynching of 23-year-old Claude Neal in Jackson County, Florida, who was accused of killing a young white woman. Neal was moved from jail to jail until news of his location was leaked to the press. The imprisoned young man was seized by a lynch mob, and was ultimately murdered in a public spectacle. Responding to criticism for his treatment of the affair, Florida Governor David Sholtz insisted, “under the circumstances it would have been futile to call out the militia.” The figure of Neal, in contrast to the specificity of the surrounding context, lacks any clearly identifiable detail. The illustration does not, therefore, call attention to the physical violence Neal endured, but rather points to the complicity of the government in allowing the lynching to occur.