Lena Baker

Lena Baker

Birth
Cuthbert, Randolph County, Georgia, USA
Death 5 Mar 1945 (aged 44)
Reidsville, Tattnall County, Georgia, USA
Burial Cuthbert, Randolph County, Georgia, USA
Plot Rear left corner of the Churchyard
Memorial ID 11544277 · View Source
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Folk Figure. She was the only woman to be executed in Georgia's electric chair. Born in Cuthbert, Georgia, Baker was an African-American mother of three who worked as a maid for Ernest B. Knight, a local white mill owner. On May 1, 1944, Baker was arrested for the fatal shooting of Knight at his home. She told police that for months Knight had kept her as a virtual sex slave, and that she shot him with his own pistol while trying to escape. Her one-day trial was typical of the "justice" blacks received in the segregation-era South. She was not allowed to testify, no witnesses were called to her defense, and the all-white, all-male jury delivered its guilty verdict in 20 minutes. Her appeal never made it beyond the county court because her court-appointed attorney immediately resigned from the case, leaving her without counsel. Baker defended herself to the end. Her last words were, "What I done, I did in self-defense. I have nothing against anyone. I'm ready to meet my God". She was electrocuted at the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville on March 5, 1945. The Cuthbert Times reported the execution with the headline, "Baker Burns". In 1996, author Lela Bond Phillips began investigating the all but forgotten story. She tracked down surviving witnesses, who confirmed Baker's allegations of Knight's abuse, and determined that the evidence against her supported a manslaughter conviction at best. Historians now say that the lack of due process in her case amounted to a "legal lynching". In August 2005 the Georgia courts agreed to grant Baker a posthumous pardon, only the second in the state's history. (The first was in 1986 for Leo Frank, lynched in 1915). "The Lena Baker Story" was made into a film in 2008.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


Inscription

The Only Woman To Die In
Georgia's Electric Chair
Pardoned In 2005


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 16 Aug 2005
  • Find a Grave Memorial 11544277
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Lena Baker (8 Jun 1900–5 Mar 1945), Find a Grave Memorial no. 11544277, citing Mount Vernon Baptist Church Cemetery, Cuthbert, Randolph County, Georgia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .