The story of Frank Embree is fascinating, sad, and a cautionary tale for black men in general. While in 2021, black men who enter into romantic relationships with white women to a lesser extent do not have to fear the repercussions such as being beaten to death; however, there’s always the running theme about what consequences might arise by either being in a romantic relationship with them or being accused of certain crimes despite claiming their innocents.
According to history, on June 17, 1899, an African American man riding a horse supposedly attacked a 14-year-old white girl and sexually assaulted her as she walked to a friend’s home. Frank Embree had been accused and arrested and was scheduled to stand trial on July 22, 1899. Before Embree’s trial, the town’s residents felt justice was taking too slow, so to speed up matters, they took action into their own hands. Embree was being transferred by police officers to stand trial when a white mob ambushed the officers and took control of Embree and brought him to the site where the assault took place.
In front of a crowd of over 1,000 spectators in Fayette, Missouri, Embree suffered the humiliation of being handcuffed, stripped naked, and forced to confess to the crime. As part of his punishment, he was hit with a bullwhip 103 times in addition to receiving 50 more slashings.
“Seeing that he would die anyhow, Frank confessed to the crime and pleaded that he is not burned to death and also requesting that his parents are told about his death,” wrote writer Elizabeth Ofoshuah Johnson.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper mentioned the lynching; however, what was not reported was the claim that he was castrated and forced to eat his penis while being shot several times as he hung from an Oak tree.
“Images of his lynching and hanging were made into postcards for the white community to celebrate his death,” wrote Johnson. “Before his hanging, Frank was allowed to pray. The 19-year-old boy prayed for his life and to be accepted into heaven and also prayed for his family and friends….”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch took out an editorial that read: “His fate is a fair warning to all others who would commit such hellish crimes. The citizens of Howard County will not tolerate such. The negro was given no more than he deserved. Let others beware.”