Noose Incidents and Their Historical Context

Bias, Discrimination & Hate
Race & Racism
National Museum of African American History & Culture

Alan Karchmer/NMAAHC

Grade Level:
High School
Common Core Standards:
Reading, Speaking and Listening, Language
Bias, Discrimination & Hate
Race & Racism

The noose, also known as the “hangman’s noose,” has been in the news lately because there have been several noose-related incidents. Recent examples include nooses being found in K-12 public schools and colleges, the U.S. Mint, a construction site and ironically, an exhibit on segregation at the National Museum for African American History. The hangman's noose has come to be one of the most powerful visual symbols directed against African American people and evokes racial history, hatred and bigotry. Its origins are connected to the history of lynching in America, particularly in the South after the Civil War, when violence or threats of violence replaced slavery as one of the main forms of social control that white people used against African American people. The surge in recent incidents is disturbing and reflects a general increase of hate symbols.

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to understand the historical and current day use of the hangman’s noose, reflect on the context of the history of lynching in the U.S., consider the increase of these hate symbols and explore what can be done about it.

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