The new video for country singer Jason Aldean’s song “Try That in a Small Town” takes place outside a courthouse in Tennessee where, nearly a century ago, an 18-year-old Black man was attacked by a mob and lynched.

Mr. Aldean was criticized after releasing the video, which included violent newsreel footage of looting and unrest during protests in American cities. Country Music Television pulled the video this week after allegations surfaced on social media that its lyrics and message were offensive.

“I think there’s a lack of sensitivity in using that courthouse as a prop,” said Cheryl L. Keyes, chair of the African American studies department and professor of ethnomusicology at UCLA.

The teenager who was lynched, Henry Choate, was traveling from his home in Coffee County, Tenn., where he worked in road construction, to visit his grandfather in nearby Maury County on November 11, 1927 – Armistice Day, as it was known at the time, or Veterans Day today.

While he was there, he was accused – falsely, historians now believe – of raping a 16-year-old white girl.

According to account in “Lynching and Framing in Tennessee,” a book by Robert Minor that was published in 1946, the girl’s family called the county sheriff, who responded by rounding up a pack of bloodhounds to track down the girl’s attacker.

Before the hounds arrived, however, a group of white men went to Mr. Choate’s grandfather’s house, “called” Mr. Choate and led him to the girl, who did not identify him as her attacker, according to Mr. Minor’s book.

After the hounds were brought in, they got “the scent” on a street called Hicks Lane, where the attack was alleged to have taken place. But the scent didn’t lead the dogs to Mr. Choate’s grandfather’s house.

Instead, “the trail faded in another direction,” Mr. Minor wrote, “and the girl again said she did not recognize Henry Choate as her attacker.”

One man, however, reported seeing Mr. Choate returning to his grandfather’s home from the direction of Hicks Lane. Mr. Choate’s arms were tied with ropes and he was led away. Later, he was turned over to the sheriff, who arrested him.

After Mr. Choate was brought to the jail, a cook there told him to pray because “the mob is coming to lynch you,” according to Mr. Minor’s book.

“I know they are,” said Mr. Choate.

According to Mr. Minor’s account, a crowd of whites gathered outside the jail, demanding the keys. The sheriff’s wife, with whom the sheriff left the keys, initially refused because she believed Mr. Choate was innocent, Mr. Minor wrote.

The mob tried to enter the prison twice, and failed, according to a contemporaneous account of the episode in The Tennessean.

One mob member left and returned with a sledgehammer and began pounding on the prison door with it, Mr. Minor wrote.

Terrified that the mob would blow up the jail, the sheriff’s wife relented, and the first deputy sheriff unlocked the door. Mr. Choate was beaten with a sledgehammer and dragged from the jail.

The mob used a rope to tie him to the bumper of a car and dragged him to the Maury County courthouse in Columbia, Tenn., where they hung him from a window, according to news reports.

There were approximately 250 men in the mob, according to research by the University of North Carolina.

Two priests, two lawyers and James I. Finney, the editor of The Tennessean, begged mob members to spare Mr. Choate’s life, but to no avail, the International News Service reported.

Others denounced the actions of the mafia.

The executive committee of a body called the Tennessee Interracial Commission later said in a statement that “all available information indicates that the Maury County sheriff failed to fulfill his duties as an officer,” The Tennessean reported a little more than a week after the lynching.

The Maury County sheriff, who was identified in news stories at the time as Luther Wiley, said in a statement in the days after the lynching that he was honoring a promise.

“I had an agreement with the mother, brothers and the little girl not to remove the criminal from our county, but to give him a speedy trial,” he said, according to a 1927 report in The Tennessean. “And I kept my promise firmly.”

He added that he was “overwhelmed with all classes of weapons”, referring to members of the mob who armed themselves with crowbars, sledgehammers and dynamite.

Ultimately, a grand jury declined to indict anyone involved with the lynching, according to a story that was published in The Philadelphia Tribune in December 1927.

As the details of Mr. Choate’s death resurfaced this week, Mr. Aldean responded on Twitter to the criticism of his music video denying that he had released a “pro-lynching song.”

“These references are not only worthless, but dangerous,” he wrote. “There is not one lyric in the song that references race or indicates it – and there is not one video that is not actual news footage – and while I can try to respect others for having their own interpretation of a song with music – this one goes too far.”

TackleBox Films, the company that produced the video, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Alain Delaquerière contributed research.

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