Local Leaders Mark 1923 Lynching of U. of Missouri Janitor

Eighty-seven years after a black janitor at the University of Missouri at Columbia was lynched before he could stand trial on rape charges, local and state officials have taken steps to publicize the ugly episode in the town’s history and correct the record, the Associated Press reports. The death certificate for the janitor, James T. Scott, who maintained that he had been a victim of mistaken identity, now states that he died of “asphyxia due to hanging by lynching by assailants.” The document also notes that he was “never tried or convicted of rape.” Mr. Scott, who was 35 and married, was arrested in April 1923 for the alleged rape of the teenage daughter of a German-literature professor. Within days, he was hanged by a mob that included university students and leading citizens. The professor, Hermann Almstedt, pleaded with the mob to stop, but was said to be threatened with a second lynching—his own.

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