SHAWNEE — As Americans prepare for inauguration of their first African-American president, first-time author Charles N. Clark (Kiktode) offers up an examination of the troubled relations among races during Oklahoma’s days as a territory and her initial quarter-century as a state. "Lynchings in Oklahoma: Vigilantism and Racism in the Twin Territories and Oklahoma 1830-1930" illustrates those dark recesses of Oklahoma history through telling of individual lynching stories and the grim lynchings numbers.

"Lynchings..." gets inside the unwarranted lynching-at-the-stake of young Seminole Indians Lincoln McGeisey and Palmer Sampson in retaliation for Maud-area resident Mary Leard’s murder in 1898. It relates the sad tale of African-American mother and son, Mary and Lawrence Nelson, hanged from a North Canadian River bridge near Okemah in 1911.

The details of more than 55 such instances of vigilantism carried too far illustrate the tensions and forces that shaped Oklahoma. Author Clark, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and its tribal rolls director, gets inside the factors that created these tensions – among the white and African-American settlers and the Native Americans who had been forcibly relocated to Oklahoma in the first half of the 19th Century.

As Clark reports, a toxic stew of competing interests, paucity of law enforcement, and outright racism often combined to ensnare innocent victims. He returned to the roots of mob rule to illuminate the first-ever “lynchings.” And, he brings the topic forward to current times to offer words of wisdom on rising above these demons of our worst nature.

Of the genesis of "Lynchings...," Clark says, “What started out as a college class assignment became a quest to learn the real truth about Oklahoma.”

Clark is being recognized as an authority on this aspect of Oklahoma’s history. In a Nov. 19, 2008 story on the history of the Ku Klux Klan in Oklahoma, Oklahoman newspaper staff writer Ken Raymond turned to Clark as a source: “In his book, “Lynchings in Oklahoma,” Charles Clark notes that while the Klan never was linked definitively to any illegal executions, members weren’t averse to strong-arm tactics. He describes the 1923 Klan attack on George Hanteman, a Jewish man in Tulsa. Klan members kidnapped Hanteman, whose name is spelled in other accounts as Hantaman, and tortured him before dumping him outside of his house.”

"Lynchings..." can be ordered through Clark’s Web site/blogs, www.Kiktode.com or www.LynchingsInOklahoma.com. The book is softbound and retails for $29.99 plus tax and shipping and handling. Orders can be telephoned to 405-275-3975.

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