1936 : Black Legion Members Execute Charley Poole Outside Detroit

May 12, 2022 all-day

On May 12, 1936, a young unemployed autoworker — Charley Poole — was taken into the countryside west of Detroit and shot five times at point-blank range, an honor killing that was the latest in a long string of atrocities committed by the black-robed vigilantes called the Black Legion. As unremarkable as Poole’s life had been up to that point, in death he wound up extracting an extraordinary price from his killers. His murder caused the previously unknown Black Legion to explode into the headlines, resulting in most of its leaders being sent to prison and exposing the clandestine brotherhood of bullies to ridicule.

For more information, see Richard Bak, “The Dark Days of the Black Legion”, Hour Detroit, March 2009.

The black legion rides / George Morris. New York : Workers Library Publishers, 1936 available in the MSU Main Library Special Collections American Radicalism Collection (Basement). Also available online.

Black legion / [presented by] Warner Bros. ; directed by Archie L. Mayo ; screenplay by Abem Finkel and William Wister Haines ; story by Robert Lord.  Burbank, CA : Distributed by Warner Home Video, [2008] Originally broadcast as a motion picture in 1936.  Frank Taylor and people like him have a vision for America. It is a vision shaped by terror and fueled by fear, ignorance and hate – a nation of ‘free, white, 100-percent Americans!’

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