Frank Embree’s narrative is a terrifying one that highlights the dangers of being born black in the United States, particularly during the age of slavery, its abolition, and the Jim Crow era. The treatment that Frank Embree received before he died for a crime he did not commit needs to be told over and over again in order to give more meaning and historical context to the injustice that many black people are facing today, as well as to emphasize the importance of advocating for justice for all and finally against racism.
On June 17, 1899, Wood Dougherty’s 14-year-old daughter was on her way to see a friend when she was assaulted and raped by an unknown guy who was dubbed “the devil” or “the black monster.”
Because the attacker was riding a horse that belonged to Frank’s uncle, John Collins, Frank was immediately suspected and questioned. Frank decided to return to Kansas to rescue his life after realizing that his life was in danger, as he was likely visiting his uncle in Howard County, where the rape took place.
According to Patreon, a large advertising offering a $300 reward for “Emory’s” apprehension was placed after the victim’s father revealed that Embree was the assailant and that attempts to apprehend him had failed since he fled.
The circumstances surrounding Frank’s capture are unknown. While some sources claim he was apprehended by the intellectuals in Kansas and transported to Gaol in Mexico before being killed by a furious white mob of over a thousand people, others claim he was escaping to Mexico when he was apprehended and stripped naked before being returned to Howard County.
What remains certain, however, is that Frank was caught by an angry white crowd at one time and was unable to be rescued by the intellectuals, who were vastly outnumbered.
On July 22, 1899, he was lynched after being apprehended, handcuffed, and stripped nude in order to be made to confess his guilt. When the stripping didn’t work, Frank was beaten 103 times with a bullwhip, causing significant bleeding and tearing into his skin. He was whipped another 50 times before begging to speak. Frank admitted to the crime and appealed with the authorities not to burn him alive, as well as demanding that his parents be informed of his death.
Frank was castrated and forced to consume pieces of his manhood before being carried to an oak tree and hanged, according to a reporter’s testimony that was not included in the newspaper information of his detention and execution.
Frank was allowed to pray before he was hanged. Before he was hanged and shot multiple times, the 19-year-old teenager pleaded for his life and acceptance into heaven, as well as for his family and friends. He was then abandoned and buried in the Nebo Church cemetery by fellow blacks.
The circumstances of his crime were changed to meet the evidence that he was guilty. “His fate is a good reminder to all others who would perpetrate such horrible crimes,” wrote The Democrat Leaders in an editorial. Such behavior will not be tolerated by the residents of Howard County. The negro was not treated any better than he deserved. Others should be on their guard.”
Images of his lynching and hanging were turned into postcards for the white community to commemorate his death and his story, which was repeated again and over. The rape of white females, which was blamed on an unnamed black man, continued after the lynching. It demonstrated that Frank Embree was not guilty.
His story, like many others, has been buried in history in order to show the inequitable treatment of young black people. In recent years, his narrative has been adapted into a film.