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Our Visual Library Series serves as a powerful antidote to attacks on diversity, Black history studies, Critical Race Theory (CRT), and books by Black Authors by providing a comprehensive perspective on American History.


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  • Writer's pictureT. Brookshire

Postmaster Frazier Baker: A Trailblazer & Tragedy in Postal Service History

Photo AI-generated based on real photo

Postmaster Baker

Postmaster Frazier Baker, a 40-year-old Black man from Lake City, South Carolina, and his infant daughter, Julia, were murdered by a lynch mob on February 22, 1898. Mr. Baker was the first African American to be appointed as U.S. postmaster for Lake City. Despite vehement opposition to his appointment from the white community, Mr. Baker held the position for six months, working diligently despite being harrassed, shot at multiple times, and receiving countless death threats.

Mob of Racists Attack Family

The Bakers lived in a small building just outside Lake City. Their home was a former schoolhouse that had recently been converted into a residential dwelling and Post Office. Witnesses reported that a number of white men circled the Baker house at 1:00am, set the building on fire, and fired up to 100 bullets into the house while Mr. and Mrs. Baker and their 6 young children were inside. Unfortunately, Mr. Baker was shot to death while trying to escape the burning house. To add to the depth of the tragedy... as Mrs. Baker fled the burning house carrying Julia, the precious baby was shot dead in her mother’s arms. Mrs. Baker and her other children managed to escape with their lives, horrified and distraught, but 3 of the innocent children were seriously wounded by gunshots and permanently maimed.

Mrs. Lavinia Baker and her surviving children

Mr. Frazier and Baby Julia’s remains were burned beyond recognition. But as if the level of disgust could not sink any lower: the local white newspaper insensitively reported that they had been “cremated in the flames.” The federal post office building and all of its equipment were consumed by the fire and the citizens of Lake City were left without a post office.

The Aftermath

Members of the Black community held a mass meeting at Pilgrim Baptist Church and drafted a public statement expressing outrage about the lynching. The murder prompted a national campaign of letter-writing, activism, and advocacy spearheaded by Ida B. Wells and others, which ultimately persuaded President McKinley to order a federal investigation that resulted in the prosecution of 11 white men implicated in the Baker lynching. Despite ample evidence, an all-white jury refused to convict any of the defendants. Disgusting…

Long Overdue Recognition

Although it should have been done decades ago, more is being done recently to bring awareness to this tragic incident. To memorialize Postmaster Frazier Baker, Baby Julia, and the surviving members of the Baker Family, a historical marker was installed on the site of the atrocities in 2013. In early 2019, the Lake City post office was renamed to honor Postmaster Frazier Baker, thanks to Congressional legislation first put forward by U.S. Rep. James Clyburn.

With this post, we want to honor the courage and resolve of the Baker family and countless other Black families they represent who only wanted to serve the public’s interest. May their souls rest in peace.

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