DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — DeKalb County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Commissioner Larry Johnson to erect two historical markers to contextualize lynchings in DeKalb County.
The markers are part of the Remembrance Project, an undertaking of the Montgomery, Ala.-based nonprofit the Equal Justice Initiative in partnership with DeKalb’s chapter of the NAACP.
The project’s aim is to recognize and memorialize incidents of racial terrorism perpetrated throughout the United States.
Lynching refers to murder by a group. It is estimated that more than 4,000 people were lynched in the United States between the end of the Civil War and 1950, mostly black men.
The historical markers will be placed outside of the courthouse in the Decatur Square and in the downtown area in the city of Lithonia.
“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,” Commissioner Johnson said.
One side of the historical markers, titled “Lynching in America,” provides a brief overview of lynching of African Americans in America from 1877 to 1950.
Racist lynchings often took place following accusations of interracial relationships or committing a crime, even in the absence of evidence to support the accusation. These lynchings often included burnings and mutilation, sometimes in front of crowds numbering in the thousands.
The other side memorializes specific lynchings that took place 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 and turned him over to local officers. In Redan, he was denied a trial, seized by a mob of 100 white men and hanged from a tree.
On April 3, 1892, two unidentified black men disappeared near Lithonia after they were accused of assaulting a white girl and were pursued by a mob. 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 Georgia Ku Klux Klan were responsible for his death.