All around the country, Alpha Chi members are producing extraordinary scholarship across disciplines. We’ll be spotlighting some of their most compelling research projects in the coming months. Let their work be your inspiration.
Name: Symphony Munoz
Institution: McMurry University
Class Year: Class of 2018
Q: What is the title of your project?
A: “Mob Violence and its Victims: A Comparative Analysis of the Alleged Crimes for which Mexicans and African-Americans were Lynched”
Q: What was your research question?
A: What were the differences in mob violence in Texas regarding the alleged crimes of African-Americans and Mexicans?
Q: What did you learn?
A: I learned that there are significant statistical differences in the percentages of lynchings between African-Americans and Mexicans that occurred between 1850 and 1942. For instance, more Mexicans (52%) experienced mob violence for the alleged criminal offense of murder than African-Americans (31%). This indicates that the supposed justification for lynching Mexicans was due to the belief that they were violent, reckless, and dangerous individuals capable of killing. Regarding the alleged crime of sexual assault, 33% of African-Americans were lynched, in contrast to 3% of Mexicans. This result supports literature concerning African-American stereotypes in the South.
The most unexpected finding, however, was the stark contrast in the alleged crime of theft. Only 3% of African-Americans were lynched due to theft whereas 23% of Mexicans were lynched. Uncovering the role of theft in mob violence is important because it accounts for nearly one-fourth of Mexican victims in the dataset, and it captures the Texas narrative of the justifications for alleged crimes. These differences suggest that the motivations for mob violence against African-Americans are different than those igniting violence towards Mexicans. These motivations were tied to unfair prejudices and a perceived threat to the way of life of whites.
Q: Why does it matter?
A: This information is a vital piece of the puzzle for American society today because it helps scholars understand the origins of past prejudices leading to racial tensions in modern culture. I used African-Americans as one side of the research because there is abundant data on the subject. While there is very limited data regarding mob violence towards Mexicans, that does not mean these events did not occur. Therefore, this research contributes to conversations about racial justice by providing a look into the past.
Q: What’s next?
A: I plan on expanding this research by reviewing the various counties throughout Texas where these episodes of mob violence took place. Taking a broader look will offer a greater understanding of the regional differences within the state. In the meantime, I will be gathering experience working as an intern in a law firm, and I will be attending law school in the near future.