cover image Elegy for Mary Turner: An Illustrated Account of a Lynching

Elegy for Mary Turner: An Illustrated Account of a Lynching

Rachel Marie-Crane Williams. Verso, $24.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-78873-90

Marie-Crane Williams (Run Home If You Don’t Want to Get Killed) documents the 1918 murder of Mary Turner in this harrowing graphic work that incorporates explicit block prints, historical newspaper clippings, and yellowed telegrams to create the feel of a haunted scrapbook. In May of 1918, white mobs in southern Georgia went on a rampage, lynching 11 Black people in 10 days. Mary Turner, who was eight months pregnant, spoke up to denounce the lynching of her husband. In response, the mob brutalized and murdered her, as well. Marie-Crane Williams builds her wrenching elegy around a series of evocative prints interspersed with tactile, infuriating primary source documents. Horrifying depictions of Turner’s murder are juxtaposed with clips from contemporaneous news articles stating Turner made “unwise remarks” that “the people in their indignant mood took exceptions to... as well as her attitude.” The introduction by Mariame Kaba connects the event to current activism: “As organizers today insist that we must #SayHerName in reference to Black women (cis and trans) whose lives are cut short by state-sanctioned violence, Mary Turner calls out to us from the grave.” This succinct work confronts readers with atrocity, in a necessary tribute. (Mar.)