The practice of lynching is a crime where one or more persons is killed by a group of people, usually defined as 3 or more, often by means of hanging but not strictly limited to this method. The crime is outside, or extra-legal, of the legal system and the perpetrators try to justify their actions as being "just" or the righteous punishment of those who are killed.

Lynching in the United States mostly occurred in the southern states, though it happened throughout most of the nation during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The upper south states are antebellum slave states that either did not pass an ordinance of secession during the Civil War, or seceded after the firing on Fort Sumter. These states also had legalized school segregation at the time of the Supreme Court decision Brown v Board of Education in 1954 which negated the "separate but equal" justification for segregation.

States in red had legal school segregation in 1954

These states also had in place a number of laws deemed "Jim Crow" which restricted the rights of African-Americans as full citizens.

The upper southern states generally had numerically lower lynching incidents than the "deep south", but the motivations and backgrounds are similar. Having a much lower African-American population also meant that lynching rates were often as great as the deep south states or even greater, as in the case of Arkansas or Kentucky. The people usually targeted were African-Americans, though victims were sometimes of other races and nationalities.

African-American Lynchings 1877-1950 in the Upper South
State Avg. Afr.-Am. Population 1880-1950 Deaths Avg./Year 1877-1950 Avg./Person
Arkansas 398670 492 6.6486 0.0000167
Delaware 32390 1 0.0135 0.0000004
Kentucky 245464 168 2.2702 0.0000092
Maryland 262745 28 0.3783 0.0000014
Missouri 194722 60 0.8108 0.0000042
North Carolina 765664 123 1.6621 0.0000021
Tennessee 469488 233 3.1486 0.0000067
Virginia 666839 84 1.1351 0.0000017
West Virginia 75013 35 0.4729 0.0000063