“Assault by Leer” or “Leering While Black”

When cleaning out the garage I found a copy of Quick News Weekly from November 24, 1952. On page 49, in the crime section I came across the short article titled Assault by Leer, describing how Mack Ingram was sentenced and jailed for simply leering at a 17-year-old white girl. According to the article, in North Carolina “assault by leer” was a possible offense in 1952, even though there was no actual physical contact. There seems to be no coincidence that Mack Ingram was Black and Willie Jean Boswell white.

To put the article into perspective, in 1952 Dwight Eisenhower was President, cold war tensions were beginning to brew and public schools were separated based on skin color. It was not until two years later that Brown v Board of Education was decided on. De jure (by law) discrimination is said to have ended after Brown v Board of Education in the 50s, but de facto (by fact) discrimination is still persistent in various forms, such as in the racial profiling of Blacks, often described as “Driving While Black” or “Walking While Black” (the killing of Trayvon Martin comes to mind). Other forms of societal racism are further called “Hailing While Black” (as Danny Glover puts it), “Learning While Black” or “Eating While Black.” If the persecution of individuals based on “Driving While Black” and “Walking While Black” is common de facto, then it seems safe to say that Mack Ingram was convicted of a de jure crime based on “Leering While Black.”

This picture was taken by Hennie Weiss and is shared under a creative commons license. You are free to share, copy and redistribute the work as long as attribution is given. You may not make commercial use of the work.