Black History Month – Day 23

Frazier Baker was appointed to the position of Postmaster in Lake City, South Carolina. He was the first black person to hold the position in the town, following the 1896 election of President McKinley.

Boycotts were initiated, along with petitions for removal. One of the complaints were that Baker cut mail from being delivered three times a day to once after threats to his life were made. (Because that’s illogical to want to protect yourself right?)

A postal inspector investigated and recommended the office be closed. A mob of white men burned it down, expecting that no one would rent space to a black man in that position. A space was rented on the outskirts of town by the government and soon the office functioned as both board and post office. That was in February of 1898.

Shortly thereafter, the Baker home was being torched as the man, his wife and 6 children slept. The family made a run for it, with the elder Baker beign shot and killed by the hail of bullets being hurled his way, and a 2 year old girl being struck and killed while in the arms of her mother. After the flames and gunfire subsided, the survivors met at a neighbor’s home. They remained in Lake City for three days but received no treatment.

The subsequent trial was declared a mistrial and was never retried.

St. James AME Church was built on the post office site in 1918. In 1955, the church was bruned down because it’s then-minster’s (Rev. J. A. DeLaine) civil right activism on behalf of the NAACP. It wasn’t until 2013 that a historical marker was placed to represent that post office and the former Baker home.

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