Lynching of James Scott, 1923

Because of its crucial significance to Columbia’s history, this April 1923, the last public lynching has its own media page.

Note, a marker has been placed where the murder took place, a memorial stone has been placed at the grave of the victim, James Scott, and his death certificate has been corrected. Yet, much needs to be done to improve racial relations in Columbia, Missouri, as evidenced by racial incidents on the campus of MU the fall of 2016.

In April 2019, a book, “A Lynching in Little Dixie,” was published. The book is designed as a biography of James T. Scott, the man who was murdered by a mob. It is written by the niece of the girl, Regina Almstedt, who accused Scott of being her attacker.

The Columbia Missourian published a two-part series on the book.

  • April 26, 2019 — An author retraces James T. Scott’s life, ending the silence about her family’s link to his death. Part 1. Columbia Missourian. Summary: Pat Roberts, now deceased, wrote a book about James T. Scott after she learned her aunt was the girl who accused him of attempting to rape her. This accusation by Regina Almstedt, 14, at the time, led to Scott’s murder by lynching. Roberts’ family had never discussed Scott’s murder in 1923. Roberts learned of the family connection from a 2003 series in the Columbia Missourian related to the lynching. The name of the book is “A lynching in Little Dixie: The Life and Death of James T. Scott.”
  • April 27, 2019 — Lifting the cloud, a detailed history of the Scott lynching. Part 2. Columbia Missourian. Summary: This part outlines why the family never discussed the lynching death of James T. Scott, why the author wrote the book, outlines what Columbia groups have done to mark and/or commemorate Scott’s death.

This editorial by George Kennedy outlines the tragedy of the 1923 event: Oct. 6, 2016 —GEORGE KENNEDY: Repairing old wounds while another opens, Columbia Missourian. Summary: Notes past history and changes, notes recent racial incidents at MU between Delta Upsilon and members of the Legion of Black Collegians.

Below is a list of the coverage of the event:

  • April 26, 2019 — An author retraces James T. Scott’s life, ending the silence about her family’s link to his death. Part 1. Columbia Missourian. Summary: Pat Roberts, now deceased, wrote a book about James T. Scott after she learned her aunt was the girl who accused him of attempting to rape her. This accusation by Regina Almstedt, 14, at the time, led to Scott’s murder by lynching. Roberts’ family had never discussed Scott’s murder in 1923. Roberts learned of the family connection from a 2003 series in the Columbia Missourian related to the lynching. The name of the book is “A lynching in Little Dixie: The Life and Death of James T. Scott.”
  • April 27, 2019 — Lifting the cloud, a detailed history of the Scott lynching. Part 2. Columbia Missourian. Summary: This part outlines why the family never discussed the lynching death of James T. Scott, why the author wrote the book, outlines what Columbia groups have done to mark and/or commemorate Scott’s death.
  • April 27, 2019 — In the 1990s, a play chronicled James T. Scott’s lynching for local, national audiences. Columbia Missourian. Summary: Eric Wilson and Clyde Ruffin wrote a play, “Strands,” in 1991. The play premiered in Columbia, and went on to win the 1992 Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, and was performed as part of the American College Theatre Festival in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
  • April 30, 2019 — Guest Commentary: Columbia only goes through the motions of racial reconciliation. Columbia Missourian. Summary: Author Traci Wilson-Kleekamp states the article and book were insufficient and that the article, book and 2003 series did not property address the harm to Gertrude Carter Scott, Scott’s widow. Wilson-Kleekamp’s commentary calls on the city of Columbia, the University of Missouri and the School of Medicine, where James T. Scott was employed, to do more to highlight Scott’s life. The piece also notes the Columbia Public School should have a curriculum that honors black contributions to the community.
  • July 2, 2017 — New data on an old disgrace: Missouri had second highest number of lynchings outside Deep South, Columbia Missourian. Summary: A new study by the Equal Justice Initiative shows that Missouri had 60 lynchings from 1877 to 1950.
  • Feb. 24, 2017 — Trial society to take former Tribune publisher to mock court, Columbia Daily Tribune, accessed Feb. 26, 2017. Summary: The Historical and Theatrical Trial Society of the University of Missouri Law School will hold a mock trial for Ed Watson, the editor and proprietor of the Columbia Daily Tribune in 1923, when James T. Scott was lynched. The article quotes Frank Bowman, an MU law professor, as saying, “The newspaper coverage from the Tribune all but calls for a lynching.”
  • Feb. 24, 2017 — A pdf of the April 28 1923 editorial by Ed Watson.
  • December 2016 — Stewart Road/Stewart Bridge, Columbia Business Times. Summary:  This piece highlights the fact that a portion of Stewart Road was once Stewart Bridge, the site of Columbia’s last public lynching. Written and photographed by Grace Vance, the piece shows both the view of today and of the past. A pdf of the article is posted with permission from Brenna McDermott, editor of the CBT.
  • Oct. 6, 2016 —GEORGE KENNEDY: Repairing old wounds while another opens, Columbia Missourian. Summary: Notes past history and changes, notes recent racial incidents at MU between Delta Upsilon and members of the Legion of Black Collegians.
  • Oct. 1, 2016 — Not forgotten, Columbia Daily Tribune, p. 12A. Summary: A marker placed to mark where James Scott was lynched in April 1923, after being accused of rape. The marker is at Providence and Stewart roads, along the MKT trailhead.
  • Sept. 30, 2016 —New plaque memorializes 1923 lynching victim James T. Scott, Columbia Missourian. Summary: A marker will be placed to mark where James Scott was lynched in April 1923, after being accused of rape. The marker will be at Providence and Stewart roads, along the MKT trailhead.
  • April 19, 2016 — Plaque to mark site of last public lynching in Columbia, Missouri, Associated Press. Summary: Outlines forthcoming plaque to mark death of James Scott, victim of Columbia’s last public lynching.
  • Feb. 13, 2016 — Program urges remembrance of lynching, Columbia Daily Tribune. Summary: MU’s Association of Black Graduate and Professional Students is raising funds for a historical for the place where James Scott, 35, a janitor at MU’s School of Medicine was lynched in 1923. The article reports on Keona Ervin’s talk, “Black Bodies Swinging: Lynching and Making of Modern America.” Scott was a WWI veteran, his wife Gertrude Carter was a teacher at Douglass School, they were members of Second Baptist Church and had a new car. Ervin’s talk said lynching were “highly stylized, ritualistic and public spectacles … a response to black political and economic assertion.”
  • 2003
  • May 8, 2003 — Legacy of a Lynching, Columbia Missourian. A five-part series on the 1923 lynching of James Scott.
  • 1991
  • Summer 1991 — The Lynching of James T. Scott: The Underside of a College Town, Gateway Heritage magazine, vol. 12, no. 1, Summer 1991. Copyright © by the Missouri Historical Society.