This week’s installment of Guess Who’s Coming To Kansas City is an encore presentation of host M.C. Richardson‘s December 28th show about the wrongful execution of two black men in Catcher, AR in 1923.
“What Happened in Catcher? On December 28, 1923, Effie Latimer, a young white woman, was brutally murdered and allegedly raped. Three black men were accused of the crime. While two were grown men, the third was only 14 years-old. The two men were executed, and the young boy was sent to prison where he would soon face a questionable death…. Besides the murder and executions, Catcher would face racial tensions and more violence. Within two days of Latimer’s murder, a black man would be gunned down, or lynched, and all of the blacks would be forcibly removed from their homes and the community.” [Excerpted from the prologue to the Catcher, Arkansas oral history, see University of Arkansas – Fort Smith 2010 Undergraduate Research Symposium, Presentation Anthology http://www.uafortsmith.edu/attach/Symposium/Index/Symposium2010.pdf ]
Eleven black men would face their own trial in 1924 for the accusation of “night riding.” Although, according to public records, they would later be acquitted, this bit of information has been lost in the Catcher community. One assertion whites in the area preserve is that no black has lived in the area since these events. Great-grand niece of Effie Latimer, Linda Mitchell Griffith, who now lives in Montana said, “I strongly feel that there has been no justice for my aunt or for the two men and teenager who were rushed to trial and executed.”