The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis will hold an interfaith prayer ceremony on Sunday 7/22/18 to remember local lynching victim, Lee Walker. Sunday will mark 125 years since his murder in 1893.
Lee Walker was an African American from near New Albany, Mississippi, who was suspected of the attempted rape of a white woman in rural Shelby County. After he gave a confession under threat of lynching, he was placed in the Shelby County Jail. As the news of his alleged crime spread, a mob of nearly 3,000 white men formed outside of the jail on Front Street. The mob broke into the jail and, after a series of especially brutal attacks, hanged Lee Walker from a telegraph pole about two blocks away. The mob then burned his body, mutilated it for souvenirs, and dragged his corpse to the courthouse. What remained of Walker’s body was buried in a potter’s field.
The realities of this brutal racial injustice that have gone predominantly unacknowledged to this day, coupled with the denial of a dignified burial, are unfortunately not limited to Mr. Walker’s experience. In Shelby County alone, at least 27 African Americans were lynched from 1851 until as recently as 1939.
The ceremony to honor Lee Walker is open to the public and press and is part of the Lynching Sites Project of Memphis’ ongoing work to open the hearts and minds of the broader Memphis community to racial healing. Through shining the “light of truth” on lynchings that took place throughout Shelby County, the Lynching Sites Project empowers Memphians to confront the realities of racial injustices that remain today by first joining in difficult and important conversations.