Courthouse Removes Whipping Post

Black people were disproportionately punished using the post in Delaware
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 2, 2020 1:44 PM CDT
Whipping Post With 'Traumatic Legacy' Comes Down
A whipping post is displayed on the grounds of the Old Sussex County Courthouse near the Circle in Georgetown, Del.   (Delaware Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs via AP)

An 8-foot tall whipping post was removed from a Delaware county courthouse square Wednesday after activists said it was a reminder of racial discrimination, per the AP. The state-owned post outside the Sussex County Courthouse in Georgetown was removed after an hour and a half of excavation and put in a storage unit with other historical artifacts, news outlets reported. A resident who brought her 6-year-old son to see the post's removal called it a symbol of hate, per the Delaware News Journal. The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs said the post was used to bind and whip people publicly for committing crimes up until 1952. However, black people were disproportionately punished, according to the historical group.

A 1947 book by Robert Caldwell, a former sociology professor in the state, said more than 60% of those beaten between 1900 and 1945 were black, per the News Journal. At that time, black people made up less than 20% of Delaware's population. The post was put on display by the Georgetown Historical Society in 1993, nearly two decades after Delaware outlawed state-sanctioned public floggings outside local jails and prisons. It was the last state to abolish the whipping post, news outlets reported. Historical and Cultural Affairs Director Tim Slavin said the post was a "cold deadpan display" that didn't "adequately account for the traumatic legacy it represents, and that still reverberates among communities of color in our state." (Read more Delaware stories.)

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