Museum Monday: 1904 Lynching Artwork at the Delta Cultural Center

1904 lynching art
1904 By Vivian L. Cox, 2018 epoxy, acrylic paint, wood Photo courtesy: Delta Cultural Center

This painting and relief depicts the racially motivated lynchings in March 1904 at St. Charles in Arkansas County. The Arkansas Gazette confirmed 13 African American men were lynched in this incident, signified by the 13 holes riddled horizontally across the canvas. Their names were: Abe Bailey, Mack Baldwin, Will Baldwin, Garrett Flood, Randall Flood, Aaron Hinton, Will Madison, Charley Smith, Jim Smith, Perry Carter, Kellis Johnson, and Henry and Walker Griffin. 

The repression ensued as a white mob responded to the temporary escape of Walker Griffin from custody, arrested for an alleged physical assault on a local white man, Jim Searcy. They rampaged through the area terrorizing local Black families. Six of their victims were shot execution style, the other six died by either hanging or shooting.

An emaciated relief of a male figure appears shot multiple times with a sign denoting the year of the event. The background is painted half blue and white with the other half surrounding the male figure resembling a burnt orange twinge. Arkansas artist Vivian L. Cox created this piece on a commission from the Delta Cultural Center curator Drew Ulrich as a physical memento of this horrific incident in state history of which no known physical artifacts or photos exist.


Delta Cultural Center
Photo courtesy: Delta Cultural Center

The Delta Cultural Center opened in 1990 with a single property, The Depot, to serve as a museum. Today the Delta Cultural Center is made up of a complex of historic buildings, new structures and landscaped parks. Each site allows the center to expand its mission and provide interpretive and educational experiences. The center’s mission is to research, document, collect, interpret and present the heritage of the people of the Arkansas Delta. Admission is free and the center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Drew Ulrich
Drew Ulrich

Drew Ulrich has been the curator of the Delta Cultural Center, a museum of the Arkansas Division of Heritage, since March 2017. His paramount aim in his profession is to evoke among the public an appreciation of history through using cultural resources to generate tactile and useful experiences for them. The museum interprets the heritage of the 26 county Delta region, which includes Craighead County, through exhibitions, educational programs, annual events and tours. Ulrich has worked in the museum field since 2012 at institutions in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas. He is a professional public historian of American history personally specializing in nation building between 1812 and 1919. He holds a master’s degree (2011) in history from Sonoma State University with an emphasis on the Civil War and Reconstruction period and a second master’s in museum studies (2014) from the Cooperstown graduate program.