High School principal R. Wiley Brownlee was tarred and feathered by the KKK after he left a board meeting where he proposed the school district honor Martin Luther King, Jr. A student took this photo of Brownlee when he returned to the school for help. April 3, 1971. Michigan. [620 x 775]


Nothing about any burn injuries. I simply wonder, how hot is tar that is hot is employed for something similar to that? We ended up being wondering that too. You would figure they'd have to preheat the tar at someone's house ...



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Some random comments on reddit about High School principal R. Wiley Brownlee was tarred and feathered by the KKK after he left a board meeting where he proposed the school district honor Martin Luther King, Jr. A student took this photo of Brownlee when he returned to the school for help. April 3, 1971. Michigan. [620 x 775]

  • Nothing about any burn injuries. I just wonder, how hot is hot tar that is used for something like that?
  • I was wondering that too. You'd figure they'd have to preheat the tar at someone's house and then rush it over in the car so maybe it cooled down. Or maybe they have some sort of portable propane heater for these types of things? It seems like an inordinate amount of work vs just beating the hsit out of someone!
  • It really is too much work but racists aren't going to be the great thinkers in any recent generation.
  • Nobel Prize laureate James Watson (as in Watson and Crick, the discoverers of DNA) is pretty racist and had to step down as head of his research institute because of it. He's an all around awful person: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/01/dna-james-watson-scientist-selling-nobel-prize-medal
  • Solid response! I was definitely pretty broad with my statement (and clearly not absolutely in the right, not that I expected to be. I certainly don't know everything) but I should have outlined it a little more instead of the half assed approach.
  • Yeah no worries! You're probably 99.9% right but there's always those exceptions to the rule.
  • Being the devils advocate (and only for the sake of explanation) I believe they thought they were simply making a statement (thus not tarring his head as well). It was a racist and idiotic statement but I don't think they just wanted to beat a guy up for doing something they didn't like. I think they wanted to send a warning out to the rest of the town on what not to do to piss off the KKK. Seems as though a tar and feathering was probably better than getting the hsit kicked out of him though.
  • It's ritualistic assault. If they'd just beaten up that wouldn't be as significant. This is to publicly humiliate him as well as assault him. As well as send a message to anyone else who might be stupid enough to oppose them. I don't think they just wanted to beat a guy up for doing something they didn't like Except that was exactly what they were doing.
  • It seems like an inordinate amount of work vs just beating the hsit out of someone! I think it is meant to try to shame someone rather then seriously injure.
  • The John Adams mini-series had a scene with a good representation of the tar and feathering. I'm pretty sure you could find the clip on YouTube if you wanted to.
  • last time I saw it mentioned a bunch of people said that it was actually a fairly inaccurate representation of the process. The black tar we use for asphalt wasn't used for it, and instead it was pine tar, which has a much lower melting point that would not have hurt nearly as much unless the tar was boiling hot. In general the act was used to humiliate rather than torture.
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