Welborn Victor Jenkins


[ 1879 - 1960 ]


Left:  Wellborn Victor Jenkins
[March 5, 1916] from the
Atlanta History Center Album

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Notes on Welborn Victor Jenkins from web editor Rosalie Gancie:


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Thanks to Jon Woodson's article on Anti-Lynching Poems in the 1930's we decided to see what was available by the poet Welborn Victor Jenkins.  We were able to obtain a copy of his book-length poem The "Incident" at Monroe: A Requiem for the Victims of July 25th, 1946, Written at the Scene of the Traged
y  and have reproduced it here in a full digital facsimile.

The "Incident at Monroe" covers the 1946 mass lynching of Roger Malcom, his wife Dorothy, who was seven months pregnant, his brother-in-law George Dorsey and his wife May at Moore's Ford Bridge near Monroe, Georgia.  In addition to the killing of the adults, the baby was cut from the womb with a knife.

Though the crime was committed in 1946, there's been a recent resurgence of coverage by the mainstream press because of the possibility that one or more of the perpetrators might still be alive.   A nephew of one of the men allegedly involved in the incident gave a videotaped interview to the NAACP in 2013 recalling conversations he overheard of his uncle and others suggesting they were involved in the killings. 

The Guardian reported on this just recently ( February 15th, 2015 ):

Their page also contains a video of Wayne Watson, nephew of one of the alleged  perpetrators:

 
Video of Watson, 57, claiming in 2013 that Peppers and several other men from the area had spoken of their involvement in the killings was given to the US Department of Justice by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). - The Guardian, Feb 15, 2015

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And Democracy Now devoted a segment to the new information - February 20, 2015



Guests included: "Edward DuBose, a member of the NAACP national board and former president of the Georgia branch of the NAACP. He’s a longtime participant in an effort to bring those accountable for the Moore’s Ford lynching to justice."  And "Herb Boyd, Harlem-based activist, teacher, author and journalist. He worked on a documentary about the lynching with the filmmaker Keith Beauchamp."


A brief account from:  www.afro.com , July 10, 2014
On July 25, 1946, Roger Malcom a Black Georgia sharecropper, and his wife Dorothy, who was seven months pregnant, along with his brother-in-law George Dorsey and his wife May were on their way home

Loy Harrison, a farmer, who employed Malcom, had just bailed Malcom out of the Walton County Jail where he had been detained on allegations that he stabbed a White farmer days earlier.

The group was accosted near the Moore’s Ford Bridge, between Monroe and Watkinsville, Ga., by a White mob who riddled the African-American couple with bullets and cut the unborn baby out of Dorothy Malcom’s womb with a knife.
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There are many articles on the net covering the massacre, including web pages & videos by a group who re-enacts the killings once a year to keep the memory of the victims alive in the public's consciousness.  A 2006 report by NPR, FBI Re-Examines 1946 Lynching Case, contains an interview with Laura Wexler, author of Fire in a Canebreak: The Last Mass Lynching in America.  Wexler herself tracked down some of the men mentioned in the FBI report, but their stories remained almost verbatim from the original telling.

Says Wexler:

Fifty-seven years later, the silence still holds. Nobody's cracked. To me, that demonstrates the power of racism. The power of racism to distort and to destroy a community's and individual's ability to tell the truth.
And this brings us back to Welborn Victor Jenkins. 

As Woodson points out, Jenkins' work isn't covered as well as many of his peers.  You'll find several references to Jenkins in Woodson's Anthems, Sonnets, and Chants: Recovering the African American Poetry of the 1930s.   And we've listed two short biographies below that we found on the net, as well as images of book covers of two of his other works: Trumpet in the New Moon (1934), and "We Also Serve" (Apologies to O. Henry): The Story of a Colored Boy Who Stood Single-handed against the World and Played the Part of a Hero.   His pamphlet "Who are the Thespians" can be found in the book Jim Crow America: A Documentary History, C.M. Lewis & J. R. Lewis Eds.) pages 133-141, courtesy of the Kenan Research Center in Atlanta.

But Jenkins, though he was also a journalist, decided to write a poem about the 'Incident' at Monroe.  Perhaps this faith in the ability of poetry to more completely report on such a tragedy is what causes Jon Woodson to relate Jenkins' work to that of the poet Melvin B. Tolson.  Our FlashPoint Issue #14 contains several critical essays on Tolson, biographical references, and facsimiles of some of his papers from the Melvin B. Tolson Papers collection at the Library of Congress.  And here you'll find a full audio recording of a Reading and Lecture that Tolson gave to the Library of Congress in 1965.





 
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A short biography of Jenkins  from:
The Georgia Poetry Society Winter Newsletter, Vol 29, No 4, Winter 2007
: pages 3-4.

Highlighted Poet: Welborn Victor Jenkins (1879-1960)
By: Samuel J. Hardman
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from: Black Atlanta in the Roaring Twenties, by Herman "Skip" Mason Jr.
Ch. 9, Arts and Entertainment, page 83, Arcadia Publishing; ISBN-10: 0738567108




 
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Above:
Trumpet in the New Moon
 and Other Poems
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   Peabody Press, 1934
  
Above Right:  "We also serve" (Apologies to O. Henry). The story of a Colored Boy who stood single-handed against the world and played the part of a Hero. Illustrated by P. S. Cooke. Date Unknown.
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The Bolerium Books website describes  "We also Serve":
This book of short stories, published to benefit the Gate City Free Kindergarten Association, probably in the 1930s, contains one remarkeable piece: "Earnest of the Wings," a fifteen-page "Story of an Ambidexterous Colored Pitcher On a Northern College Team." The light-skinned protagonist and his team travelled to the South, where he had to pass for white in order to play against a Jim Crow team.
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Above: Interesting commentary on Jenkins' "Trumpet in the New Moon".
from the Afro-American, week of September 1, 1934

via google news archive


FlashPøint Magazine: a Journal of the Arts & Politics - Issue #17