One of the Lucky Unlucky

Frank Hayden’s Salvation from Charging Mob Comes from Passing Lieutenant

November 12th, 1918 may have been the luckiest day of Frank Hayden’s life. That afternoon found Hayden, an African-American laborer, running from the rage-fueled advances of a group of white men after he reportedly “ran into or struck” a pair of white sailors. Soon a mob of more than one hundred men to begin calling for the death of Hayden who was accused of a crime relatable to “stepping on someone’s shoes at a club.” This incident began at the corner of Carondelet and Common and continued down Common after police became involved and began leading Hayden away from the angry mob. In the midst of running for his life, Hayden came upon an unnamed Army Lieutenant who ran along pursuers and ordered the soldiers and sailors among them to halt, bringing every military member to a dead stop in the street. Then he ordered them to form a line, holding the unruly civilians away from the police and saving Hayden’s life. The police promptly arrested Hayden and took him to the police station.

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Article from The Times-Picayune November 12, 1918.

The last recorded lynching happened during the 1960s in America (NAACP), and although more than just African-Americans were lynched, they make up the majority of people who suffered under this form of vigilantism. Lynchings were far more brutal than just hanging up someone from a tree, often including being shot, burned, or mutilated while bound and hanging. The brutality of this act would not have been spared on Hayden is a safe assumption to be made, especially since he was dealing with military officers. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, 14 lynchings occurred in Orleans Parish between the years 1877-1950, and if the lieutenant did not step in when he did, it is almost certain that Hayden would have been added to the list. 

Black people still face inequalities in the eyes of the law, from over-inflated sentencing to arrests and searches based purely on suspicion. Although the times and methods may change, stigmas never do. Even though he would not have been lynched, it is safe to say that Hayden would continue to face a similar kind of threat walking down the street at night from a “threatened” police officer.  While the last reported lynching occurred in the 1960s, the act of stringing Black murder victims up from trees still persists as a tactic used in parts of the United States. 


Works Cited

Franck, Charles L. Downtown, River Corner of Common and Carondelet Streets. 1983 1979. Photoprint.


“Army Lieutenant Averts Lynching Bypromt Action Rescues Negro from Mob of Soldiers, Sailors and Civilians.” Times-Picayune. November 12, 1918.
“NAACP | History of Lynchings.” NAACP. Accessed October 22, 2018.

“Equal Justice Initiative’s Report.” Equal Justice Initiative’s report. Accessed October 23, 2018.

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