the Courthouse the assembled lynch mob was
large and furious with fire in their eyes, howling for
the Sheriff to release the 'Nigger boy' to them for lynching and
threatening the Courthouse if he didn't.
wanted to turn back. Dr.
Kerr told him to keep his eye on Jesus rather than on the lynch
mob: 'Have faith,
son, and leave Jesus to handle the lynch mob.'
Hawley a firm handshake, Dr. Charles W. Kerr told Hawley not to
interfere if the lynch mob turns on him, but to return home
immediately: 'I may
be called upon by The Master to die tonight in witness to His
Gospel, but I want to leave you to take care of your Mother and
Sister and to continue our honourable name.
There is some insurance; Mother will receive a widow's
pension from the Church with an orphan's allowance for Margaret.
Grandfather Kerr in
will see you through the completion of your legal education.
And Jesus will see us through everything.'
wants to go with him, but Dr. Kerr refused:
'Son, I may well be making your Mother a widow tonight by
what I am about to do, but I do not wish to take
her only son with me.
Never attempt to avenge my death, Son; leave that to the
Justice of God.'
Hawley his gold pocket watch and chain, Dr. Kerr placed his hand
on Hawley's shoulder, 'Son, here is something by which to
remember me. Wear it
always with pride.'
Charles W. Kerr got out the car wearing his long
frock coat and armed only with bible.
recognising him as a 'man of the cloth' and perhaps the most
publicly respected person in
, the lynch mob parted
before him -- like the
did before Moses --
to let Dr. Kerr through.
the falsely accused
W. Kerr confronted
the howling lynch
the top steps.
through the lynch mob to the Courthouse steps, Dr. Charles W.
Kerr recognised almost everyone in the crowd:
The lynch mob consisted of the most prominent citizens of
Tulsa: All the great
oil magnates, the most important businessmen and the leading
bankers, the City's
civic and social leaders, Tulsa's pompous 'builders' and
Dr. Kerr declared that they were
poor white trash --
who usually get blamed for such lynchings'.
Members of this socially prominent lynch mob of
oil-wealthy Tulsans hid their faces and slunk into the shadows
or ducked behind others when they saw that Dr. Kerr recognised
them. To protect the
guilty, Dr. Charles W. Kerr never told anyone
- except Mrs.
exactly 'who' it was he saw in the lynch mob.
Later, all he would ever say was that it was 'a very
well- dressed lynch mob, the night was quite dark, and that by
night … 'all cats are black'.'
very summer these socially prominent Tulsa 'cats'
would by the thousands don the
equally anonymous 'white' of the Ku Klux Klan to mask the
guilt of their terrible racial crimes in Greenwood with the
Klan's racial doctrine and burned Jesus' Cross in livid racial
and religious hatred of anyone 'different' from their poor
He told Mrs. Anna Elizabeth Coe Kerr their names but put her
under her Marital Vow of
Obedience never to reveal them: To
protect the guilty. The
community without exception --
sheep from every
flock -- were
guilty of the terrible racial crimes about to be committed.
These same 'community leaders' had also recently participated in
various other recent
lynchings. Mrs. Kerr
always said that their socially prominent names would be found
amongst the membership rolls of all the socially elite downtown
churches and the City's most exclusive country clubs.
Persons whom today would be known as 'the Tulsa
his purpose in coming, the lynch mob yelled at Dr. Charles W.
Kerr, 'Quit being a Nigger lover for once and join us!'.
Much cursing, cussing and blasphemy.
Kerr made his way to Courthouse steps. Oblivious to the sea of
foaming hatred swirling about him, Dr. Kerr climbed to top step
of the Courthouse where the Sheriff was peaking out the door at
growing lunch mob: Obvious fear this huge lynch mob of
's best 'Magic Empire' citizens will attack the Courthouse with
the top of the Courthouse steps, Dr. Charles W. Kerr surveyed
this gigantic Tulsa lynch mob
-- as if from a pulpit:
Members of all of Tulsa's Christian dominations without
exception, Reformed and un-Reformed, alike,
were amongst the
lynch mob on that May night:
Of all the various faiths in Tulsa, only the Jews were
absent from the Courthouse that long ago night late in May.
(The Rabbi later told Dr. Kerr that Jews had experienced
similar things in
and knew that
they would be next.)
of the lynch mob noticed that Dr. Kerr recognised them:
Some slunk down behind others; other prominent Tulsans
pull hats down to shield their faces from Dr. Kerr,
still others move into the shadows to escape
Kerr called for silence. His
authority as minister of the gospel was recognised by
all Tulsans, even the wealthiest.
The top of the Courthouse steps was vacated for him
-- almost as
if they were a pulpit. Hooting
and hollering diminished: Dr.
Charles W. Kerr was noted for evangelical preaching, fervent
soul saving, and compelling altar calls. The lynch mob was
willing to allow him to present his case.
But as some in the crowd yelled, 'Preacher, it had better
be good, or you will join
Kerr opened his worn bible to the Story
of Susannah and the Elders from the Old Testament apocrypha
-- the attempt to frame an innocent person thwarted by Daniel:
'This is the exact situation we have here tonight.'
He compared The Tribune headline, article and
editorial to the Elders' accusations against Susannah. Daniel
proved her innocence! 'Allow
this youth a fair court trial to do the same' Dr. Kerr demanded.
'God damns' uttered arose from the lynch mob. These elite
business, social, and civic leaders weren't in any mood to be
deprived of their prey.
Kerr turned to Crucifixion
Account re Pilate's clear recognition of Jesus' innocence
but who turned an Innocent Man over to the crowd on the pretext
of preventing violence: '"What
is truth?", asks Pilate
"Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light!"',
answered Dr. Kerr in a ringing voice.
He compared this situation at Courthouse to the scene
before Pilate's palace. And he compared the Tulsans at the
Courthouse to the Mob before Pilate's Palace demanding the death
of an Innocent Man. 'In
Jesus' Name before which every knee must bend', Dr. Kerr
implored this lynch
wealthiest citizens to let the law take its course and to
judicially determine the guilt or innocence of the accused
lynch mob of socially prominent Tulsans and the City's top
business and civic leaders yelled back, 'Let's have your
trial now, Preacher!'
Charles W. Kerr pointed out that actual evidence against youth
is quite flimsy and youth was not accused of actually committing
any act of rape. 'Could this incident have been an accident?
Elevators are notorious for 'jumping'.
This is a common experience. Let the Court determine:
Don't do what Pilate did and judicially murder an
Innocent Man,' appealed Dr. Kerr.
Someone yelled, 'Preacher, if he's a Nigger, he's guilty
!' This entire crowd
of prominent well-dressed prominent
Tulsans yowled with approval.
Kerr turned to story of The
Woman Taken in Adultery:
The attitude of Jesus.
He asks who among them is ready to cast first stone?
He pointed out that that crowd had probably all sinned
with the women. 'All
are guilty and fallen short of the Glory of God.'
Dr. Kerr challenged this lynch mob of
's most prominent citizens, 'How many here have never attempted to
take 'liberties' with a girl?'
No answer. In frustration, a Tulsan from bottom of
Courthouse steps spat tobacco at him.
reminded this lynch mob of racialist 'Green
Country' Tulsans and wealthy oilmen what the
Crowd before Pilate's Palace said, 'Let the blood of this Man be
upon us and upon our children.'
In a ringing voice Dr. Charles W. Kerr tells this
mob that the judgement of God will befall
them and the entire
community if they
actually lynch an innocent man
- - 'even if
he is a Coloured man'. Dr.
Kerr told the lynch mob that the deliberate murder of an
innocent man will incur blood guilt before God upon them, their descendants, and the entire
. Such blood guilt incurred by
of an innocent man can never be extirpated by even the
passage of time. Murmuring
and cursing from the crowd.
Kerr reminded the
lynch mob of Matthew 25: If they murder an innocent man, even if
he is a Coloured, they will be murdering Jesus,
them with their own evil,
he quotes Scripture, 'Whatsoever ye do unto to the least of My
brothers that ye have done unto Me.'
angry as the Prophet Jeremiah,
Dr. Kerr stepped forward with his open bible and not
caring about what they might do to him threatens the lynch mob
in a loud voice, 'The
blazing Wrath of God will fall upon every one of you on
Judgement Day: Every
last one of you here at this Courthouse will all be
cast into Fiery Pit -
"where the worm turneth not".
you may cry, "When did we lynch You?"
- And He will
answer "you lynched Me at the Tulsa County Courthouse on
Tuesday, the last night of May in the one thousandth, nine
hundredth and twenty-first year of My Birth:
Depart together from Me forever into Eternal Flames for I
know ye not!" '
this point the lynch mob began to quiet:
Apparent fear of
Courthouse officials appeared to be in an equivocal mood,
Dr. Charles W. Kerr concluded by telling this
well-dressed lynch mob of the most prominent Tulsa oilmen and
civic leaders that they may succeed, indeed, in breaking into
the Courthouse and in lynching the accused youth ...
but that they will have to do so over his dead body as an
ordained minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ !
on the top step of the Courthouse with his open bible in hand,
Dr. Kerr blocked the Courthouse door with his towering
sullen crowd began to slink away cursing over being thwarted
… beginning with the most prominent Tulsans who knew
Dr. Kerr had recognised them.
Dr. Kerr stayed on the top step of the Courthouse with
bible in hand for quite some time to ensure that the lynch mob
actually left and that the Courthouse was safe.
weary, Dr. Charles W. Kerr decided that he could do no more
because Tulsans had abandoned en mass the Gospel and were
reverting back to heathendom.
He and Hawley returned home.
Dr. Kerr and Hawley got back to the Manse, they found that Mrs.
Kerr and Margaret had been on their knees praying for their
safety from the time that they left.
Dr. Kerr told Mrs. Kerr that the lynching of the Black
youth had been averted, but that he had a strange premonition
that something far more
dreadful was in the process of happening.....