- by JOHN JAY CHAPMAN
- Featured on: The Best American Essays of the Century
- Read it: https://global.oup.com/us/companion.websites/fdscontent/uscompanion/us/static/companion.websites/9780199338863/whittington_updata/ch_8_chapman_coatesville.pdf
In his essay "Coatesville," John Jay Chapman offers a scathing indictment of American society's pervasive racism and prejudice. Chapman uses the brutal lynching of a black man in Coatesville, Pennsylvania in 1911 as a stark example of this deeply ingrained bigotry. The essay explores the ways in which racism and prejudice have led to a flawed justice system and an unjust society.
Chapman condemns the mob lynching of Zachariah Walker, the black man accused of killing a white steelworker in Coatesville. He characterizes the act as barbaric and cowardly, noting that the lynching was carried out by a white mob in the presence of cheering crowds. The lynching is a clear example of the systemic racism and prejudice that existed in American society at the time, and Chapman argues that it was a symptom of a larger problem.
Chapman suggests that the lynching in Coatesville was a result of the deeply ingrained racism that was prevalent in American society at the time. He notes that this racism was not limited to the white mobs that carried out the lynching, but was also present in the justice system that failed to protect the rights of the accused. Chapman argues that this failure of justice is a result of a system that is built on racism and prejudice.
The essay is also critical of American society's inability to empathize with those from different races and backgrounds. Chapman argues that empathy and understanding are essential components in the fight against racism and prejudice. Without a willingness to understand the experiences of others, Chapman suggests, society is doomed to continue the cycle of racism and bigotry.
In conclusion, "Coatesville" by John Jay Chapman is a powerful essay that offers a searing critique of American society's systemic racism and prejudice. The essay serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy of racism and bigotry in American society and the urgent need for reforms to create a more just and equitable society. Chapman's essay is a call to action for all members of society to work towards greater empathy, understanding, and justice for all.