This paper explores the public response to the trial of Charles Guerand with particular attention given to the inversion of the interracial rape trope that cast Guerand as a white beast. Although both the white and black press employed this image to call for justice and applaud the verdict, their motivations differed considerably. This paper examines the degree to which the white, middle-class newspaper editors condemned Guerand’s open desire for McCray as a public violation of the interracial sexual mores of the city, which deemed interracial relationships based in equality as a threat to white respectability. This paper also assesses the appeal of the gendered rhetoric of the protection of black womanhood for the professional men and women as well as the domestic laborers who contributed to the McCray fund, arguing that for these individuals, the prosecution represented an opportunity for African Americans to demand justice for McCray as well as respect for themselves and their communities.
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