A Case Study on Lube Martin in Race and the Law in WWI Era Kentucky

Conference: The Barcelona Conference on Arts, Media & Culture (BAMC2022)
Title: A Case Study on Lube Martin in Race and the Law in WWI Era Kentucky
Stream: Ethnicity, Difference, Identity
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Sean McLaughlin, Murray State University, United States


Every west Kentucky county but one was the scene of brutal mob lynchings of Black men during the Jim Crow Era. The outlier, Calloway County, was not any more enlightened than its neighbours; rather, it saw a gross miscarriage of justice in 1918 during the trial of a local railwayman, Lube Martin, that was in effect a legal lynching. There was no question that Martin had shot and killed Guthrie Diuguid, a disgraced town marshal and brother of the mayor who had been fired for sexually harassing Martin’s wife then stalked Martin and fired at him first during their fateful December 2016 encounter. No White man would have been convicted in Martin’s place at the time and no man would even face charges in similar circumstances today. Martin, however, was sentenced to death by an all-White jury after a two-day trial in which he was not allowed to call any of the multiple Black witnesses who would have testified that he acted in self-defense. Over the years the community chose collective amnesia rather than address the shameful legacy of the Lube Martin case, but publicizing a reliable account of what happened and why would help so many White residents understand how the justice system has failed their Black neighbours at a time of heightened conservative fears of critical race theory. This paper explains how I have used archival resources to build a broader educational campaign that shows how racial injustice manifested itself in an outwardly tranquil community like ours.

Conference Comments & Feedback

Place a comment using your LinkedIn profile


Share on activity feed

Powered by WP LinkPress

Share this Presentation