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The Color of the Third DegreeRacism, Police Torture, and Civil Rights in the American South, 1930-1955$
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Silvan Niedermeier

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469652979

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469652979.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Color of the Third Degree

Silvan Niedermeier

, Paul Cohen
University of North Carolina Press

This chapter briefly discusses the racial violence and torture investigations conducted against African American suspects and prisoners in the South. The majority of the cases of police violence against African Americans that are examined correspond to the narrow definition of torture which indicates forms of violence used by state and law enforcement officials to acquire information or coerce confessions. The analysis of torture against African American suspects and prisoners shows deliberate concealment of torture supporting the racist system and highlights the difficulty in standing against forms of violence. In addition, recent studies on key events that led to the civil rights movement--such as the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Brown v. Board of Education case, the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks’s refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger, and the murder of Emmett Till--recognize African Americans’ struggle for freedom from torture.

Keywords:   racial violence, torture, African American, police violence, concealment of torture, civil rights movement, Brown v. Board of Education, Bus boycott, Rosa Parks, Emmett Till

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