Hardy Posey was the son of Irvine and Rose Posey. He had five siblings. The family lived in Jonesboro in Jefferson County. Mr. Posey grew up with childhood trauma from racial terror violence. According to a newspaper clipping from the Montgomery Advertiser, Wesley Posey’s father was killed by the Ku Klux Klan in 1871.
At age 21, Mr. Posey worked on construction for Captain Cahill in Bessemer. On April 23, 1888, the police arrested him for the alleged assault of a white girl. He was taken to the town prison after being confronted by the police and the girl. Though he was initially detained at the local jail, he was moved to the marshal’s home for his safety. However, a mob took Mr. Posey from the marshal’s home. The mob shouted “Lynch him” and “String him up.”
The mob lynched Mr. Posey on a large oak tree near the Southern Railway Depot, near the center of Bessemer. The mob, the marshal, and two policemen were part of the crowd. The mob placed a placard on his hanging body. It read, “our wives and daughters must and shall be protected,” signed by “Bessemer’s Best.”
The black community protested Mr. Posey’s murder. Some buildings allegedly caught fire. The sheriff called in the help of a hundred armed men to quell the protest. Trains ran throughout the night for extra support. The county was quick to act to stop the black protestors. Yet, they did not offer any help to save Mr. Posey’s life.
No other records could be found about Hardy Posey or the remaining loved ones they left behind in their untimely deaths. Mr. Posey’s case is not unlike many others during this time period, as many African Americans were not granted the right to due process and a fair trial. Often times, all that was needed was an accusation and a person to blame. Cross-racial misidentifications, forced confessions, and blatant racism propagated the racial terror that African Americans endured, the continuation of white supremacy, and led to the murders of countless black men, women, and children.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
“A N**** Uprising,” The Attica Bulletin, April 28, 1888, page 2.
“Excitement at Bessemer Alabama” The Baltimore Sun, April 25, 1883, page 1.
“Posey’s Father Killed by the Ku Klux,” The Montgomery Advertiser, December 12, 1883, page 1.