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DeKalb County commissioners approve markers to honor lynching victims

Decatur Metro ATL

DeKalb County commissioners approve markers to honor lynching victims

A map of DeKalb County.
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There will soon be markers in the Decatur Square and in downtown Lithonia to memorialize the victims of lynchings in DeKalb County.

The DeKalb County Commission approved placement of the markers.

“DeKalb County supports the Remembrance Project Initiative of DeKalb’s chapter of the NAACP, which seeks to recognize and memorialize incidents of racial terrorism perpetrated throughout the United States and in localities, including DeKalb County,” the announcement from the county says. “The Remembrance Project is informed by the work of the Equal Justice Initiative, headquartered in Montgomery, which recently opened its Memorial to Peace and Justice and Legacy Museum there.”

Commissioner Larry Johnson sponsored the resolution to place the markers.

“This is progressive and forward thinking on behalf of the Board of Commissioners to acknowledge lynching in DeKalb County and to identify relatives of those who experienced this terrible act,” Johnson said.

Here is the text for both sides of the markers:

Side 1

LYNCHING IN DEKALB COUNTY

Between 1877 and 1950, racial terror lynchings of African Americans by white mobs in DeKalb County created a climate and legacy of violence and injustice that has not been previously acknowledged in DeKalb County.  On July 26, 1887, a black man named Reuben Hudson, Jr. was riding on a Georgia Railroad train when a conductor claimed that he resembled a man accused of assaulting a white woman in Redan. After the conductor turned Mr. Hudson over to local officers. He was forced to go to Redan the following day, denied a trial, seized by a mob of 100 white men and hanged from a tree. On April 3, 1892, two unknown black men disappeared near Lithonia after they were accused of assaulting a white girl and were pursued by a mob. Newspaper coverage was wide but sparse and did not include their names. The newspapers reported that when the mob returned without the men, it was “generally understood that they were lynched.” On August 21, 1945, Porter Turner, a black taxi driver who served white passengers, was found stabbed to death on the lawn of a physician in Druid Hills. Officials assumed the motive was robbery. However, almost a year later, an informant revealed that members of the Kavalier Klub — a branch of the Georgia Ku Klux Klan — were responsible for his death. Each of these lynchings terrorized the black community, and the perpetrators of these lawless acts were not held accountable. Memorializing these known and unknown victims reminds us to remain persistent and diligent in the pursuit of justice for all.

Side 2

LYNCHING IN AMERICA

Following the Civil War, violent resistance to rights for African Americans, a need for cheap labor and an ideology of white supremacy led to fatal violence against black women, men, and children. Thousands of black people were the victims of racial terror lynching in the United States between 1877 and 1950.  Lynching emerged as the most public and notorious form of racial terrorism and violence, intended to intimidate black people and enforce racial hierarchy and segregation. Many African Americans were lynched following accusations of violating social customs, engaging in interracial relationships, or committing crimes, even when there was no evidence tying the accused to any offense African Americans accused of these alleged offenses often faced hostile suspicion and a presumption of guilt that made them vulnerable to mob violence and lynching. White mobs regularly displayed complete disregard for the legal system, seizing their victims from jails, prisons, courtrooms, or out of police hands without fear of legal repercussions. Racial terror lynchings often included burnings and mutilation, sometimes in front of crowds numbering in the thousands. In many cases, the names of lynching victims were not recorded, revealing the indifference towards the injustices committed against them. Although many victims of racial terror lynching will never be known, at least 592 racial terror lynchings have been documented in Georgia.

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