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State Official Fired For Using Lynching Stories To Intimidate Black People

A medical service investigator who worked with the state of Tennessee for over 40 years was fired for telling family stories about lynching to intimidate a group of African-Americans. William Sewell was accused of telling the story last summer to Shun Mullins after the African-American man had accused a local fire chief of killing his mother by refusing to perform CPR on her because she was black.

After offensively opening the meeting by asking Mullins if he had ever been to prison, he concluded it by telling “a story about a hanging, that he had been told (by family members), about the hanging of a black man. Sewell said he still had a “strap” of the black man’s skin from the 1896 lynching, which had been given to him by his grandfather. “[It was] like a trophy to him and that concerns me. It was my impression he still had it at his house,” said Mullins. “The way he enjoyed telling the story, I thought perhaps he was still using it. It threatened me.”

Nashville NAACP member Sheryl Allen and an acquaintance, Judy Mainord, were also present in the room and relayed the exact same story to officials. Allen said that Sewell “got excited telling this story.” After an investigation, the Tennessee Department of Health determined that Sewell’s question about prison and the lynching story could have been a “form of intimidation” towards Mullins.

Meanwhile, Sewell has denied any racist intent and said he is a “victim” in this case. He acknowledged telling the story and confirmed the “strap” was given to him by his grandfather, but said he no longer owns it. “If they chose to conclude that was an intimidating comment, I’m sorry,” he said. “It was a gruesome story. I got caught up in the moment trying to convince these people that I understood, and I just went too far.”

(Photo: News Channel 5)

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  • kg

    No excuse for even bringing something like that into any conversation! That story was a disgraceful time from over 100 years ago and should be destroyed! Well, he may not think he’s racist, but he is from what his ancestors did and the brainwashing that has gone from generation to generation in his family, it never stops! Good riddens to him!

    • Thomas W. Yale

      I think what he’s done is completely wrong, too, but not all of us are defined by what our ancestors did. We’re all individuals who make choices that may or may not separate ourselves from wrongs our ancestors committed in the past. If we condemned people based on their family history, then we’d be practically condemning the entire human race. Also, I think you mean “riddance” instead of “riddens”.

      • tiedtotheair2

        You are defined by your ancestors if you’re still harping on and using to intimidate, the skin of a Black man stripped from him by said ancestors! I can’t believe this piece of crap excuse for a person is claiming to be the victim! How DARE he?!!!! It never ceases to amaze me how a blatant racist cannot see that he/she’s a racist. Even member is the KKK and other Supremacists groups deny being racists. As a matter of fact, I’ve never heard anyone admit to being a racist, even the man executed for dragging that man behind his truck denied being a racist. Oh well, I guess because no one admits it, there is no racism and it is completely in our imaginations.

    • dozr

      yes lets pretend it never happened…. however good he should get fired for this use of the stories, however lynching happened and we shouldn’t pretend like it didn’t otherwise it can happen again.

      • karlahollingsworth

        The only way to understand people’s attitudes and behaviors is to understand their past. The old cliche’ “smiling faces pretend to be your friend, smiling faces tell lies.” This phenomenon is alive and thriving through, education, religion and politics. Listen and learn! Face your demons, know and understand who they are!

  • William Bell

    BARBARIANS and IGNORANCE are back with a vengeance.