Reverend Captain Leonard Butler

Photo of Rev. Capt. Leonard Butler. Courtesy of the Archive.
Photo of Rev. Capt. Leonard Butler. Courtesy of the Archive.

Location(s): Edgewater, Alabama

Age: 53

Year: 1948

Reverend Captain Leonard Butler, 53, was a miner and pastor who was killed in 1948 by two police deputies employed by the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company, in Jefferson County, Alabama.

The officers stopped Butler to question him on his way to the mines.

Alleged motives for his killing include claims that Butler had harassed a white teenager and, when questioned, pulled a gun on the company’s deputies.

Alternatively, it has been suggested that Butler was killed because he was a leader in the local United Mine Workers Union. Three thousand miners went out on a wildcat strike to protest Butler’s killing.

Butler’s widow was awarded $10,000 in a wrongful death suit.

For more information, search CRRJ’s archive.

Read more about Butler’s death on the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive

About the Archive

The Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive houses case files and documents for more than 1,000 cases of racial homicides in the Jim Crow South. Co-founded by Melissa Nobles, professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Margaret Burnham, CRRJ director and professor of law at Northeastern, these uncovered stories highlight how violence affected lives, defined legal rights and shaped politics between 1930 and 1954.

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