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The Militant, 15 March 1948

Negro Widow, Two Sons Face
Georgia Death Chair

From The Militant, Vol. XII No. 11, 15 March 1948, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Labor and Negro groups throughout the country are rallying to the aid of Mrs. Rosa Lee Ingram and her two teenage sons, who have been sentenced to death in the Georgia electric chair in one of the most dastardly cases of lynch law in American history.

A stay of execution, originally set for Feb. 27, has been granted, and a request for a new trial is scheduled to be heard on March 20. Meanwhile, Mrs. Ingram and her sons remain in jail, dependent for their very lives on the amount of mass support and indignation that can be mobilized by their friends and sympathizers.

Mrs. Ingram is a Negro widow and the mother of 12 children, the youngest of whom is 14 years old. Her husband died last year, leaving the impoverished family no way to live except by sharecropping.

Last November Mrs. Ingram’s pigs rooted under the fence dividing the farm on which she worked from that of a white neighbor, John Ed Stratford. Enraged, Stratford took a rifle and started out to kill the animals. Mrs. Ingram meanwhile had gone to bring back the animals, and she naturally pleaded with him not to kill them.

Stratford struck her with the butt of his rifle, inflicting a bloody wound. Two of her sons, Sammie Lee, 14, and Wallace, 17, ran to her defense. In the struggle that followed, Stratford was struck on the head, a blow from which he died.

Held Three Months

Mrs. Ingram sent for the sheriff, who arrested her and four of her sons. The five members of the family were taken to different jails, denied the right to consult lawyers, and given the third degree. They were held without bail or trial for three months.

It was a clear case of self-defense, but in the South the law does not tolerate Negroes lifting their hands against white men, even when it is for the purpose of defense against unprovoked attack. The Ingrams had no counsel until the day of the trial. The lawyer appointed by the court to defend them had no chance to gather witnesses, or even to properly question his clients.

No Negro was permitted to serve on the jury. This mockery of a trial took only one day. The conclusion was inevitable—Mrs. Ingram and her two sons were sentenced to to electrocuted by Judge W.H. Harper of the Superior Court of Schley County, the same man who will rule on their appeal for a new trial on March 20.

Still Time

Fortunately, a stay of execution was won, and there is still time to save the Ingrams. The case is being handled by the NAACP. Mass protests are needed to show the Georgia courts that the American people will not tolerate this crime. They should be sent without delay to Governor M.E. Thompson of Georgia and President Truman in Washington.

Funds to handle the appeal and care for the destitute Ingram children are also urgently required. They should be sent to the NAACP, 20 West 40th St., New York 18, N.Y.

(See article by Albert Parker an Page 4.)

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