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"E" is for Earle, Willie, Lynching of

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"E" is for Earle, Willie, lynching of (February 17, 1947). The murder of Willie Earle is believed to be the last racial lynching in South Carolina. Earle, a twenty-six year old African American male was arrested for the robbery and stabbing of a white Greenville taxi driver. A mob abducted Earle from his jail cell in Pickens and drove to the outskirts of Greenville where they lynched him and abused his corpse. Officials at the state and federal levels were quick to condemn the lynching and to pursue Earle’s murderers. The trial of the accused murderers in Greenville attracted national attention. The all-white male jury found the accused not guilty. The most significant legacy of the Earle case stiffened the resolve of black South Carolinians and stimulated national efforts on behalf of civil rights.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.