Marker recognizing lynching victims installed in downtown Decatur

The marker was installed earlier this week.
The marker was installed earlier this week.

Credit: Courtesy

Credit: Courtesy

A historical marker recognizing the victims of lynchings in DeKalb County has been installed outside the historic courthouse in downtown Decatur.

The marker represents the county’s desire to reckon with the history of racial terror in DeKalb, where the lynchings of at least four black men have been documented.

The DeKalb branch of the NAACP collaborated with Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative on the marker, which was approved by the county commission in January 2019.

It was previously scheduled to be unveiled during a ceremony on March 29, but the event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The marker was instead quietly installed this week; residents are encouraged to visit and take pictures.

The EJI is partnering with local governments and groups across the country to place public markers that document lynchings in their communities. The group placed a marker in LaGrange in March 2017 in a ceremony where over 100 people attended, including relatives of two lynching victims. All told, 592 Georgians were lynched during the period from 1877 to 1950, the second most of any state during the Jim Crow era, according to the EJI.

Members of the NAACP began working on what they call the DeKalb Remembrance Project shortly after returning from a 2018 trip to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala.

DeKalb is believed to be just the second government entity in Georgia to formally acknowledge the lynchings that occurred within its borders.

DeKalb County is the first in Metro Atlanta to officially partner with the Equal Justice Initiative in recognizing the lynchings that took place in the county. The NAACP is leading an effort to organize a week of events in September that are book-ended by the unveiling of two lynching markers, an EJI lynching monument is also in the works. Video by RYON HORNE and TIA MITCHELL

The marker mentions the lynchings of four black men in Redan, Lithonia and Druid Hills between 1887 and 1945.

“Each of these lynchings terrorized the black community, and the perpetrators of these lawless acts were not held accountable,” the marker states. “Memorializing these known and unknown victims reminds us to remain persistent and diligent in the pursuit of justice for all.”

The DeKalb NAACP also held essay contests for high school and college students with scholarship prizes totaling up to $17,000, to celebrate the new marker.

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