MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As Black History Month comes to a close, Action News 5 looked back on one of the darkest events in Shelby County--the 1917 lynching of Ell Persons, a Black man murdered for a crime historians say he likely did not commit.
Click here for Story Corps Interview Page
In April, 1939, a young African American man was accused of stealing merchandise from a store in Tennessee. Shortly afterward, he was found dead in a nearby river.
That man’s name was Jessie Lee Bond. His death certificate says he drowned accidentally, but his family always maintained that after an argument with white shop owners, he was lynched — shot, castrated, and thrown in a river.
The Memphis Landmarks Commission endorsed an application Thursday, Dec. 22, to make the 1917 Ell Persons lynching site part of the National Register of Historic Places.
The Tennessee Historical Commission will consider the designation next month, followed by the National Park Service.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — The site of a brutal mob attack more than a century ago in Memphis could become the first lynching site in the country listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a local historian says.
It was a case that echoed all the way to Washington and New York City.
By Laura Faith Kebede, Special to the Daily Memphian
Published: October 13, 2022 4:00 AM CT
Inspired by the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act of 2008, WKNO takes a look at the role of local journalists in reporting on racial inequality in American society, with video segments exploring two of the recently reexamined historic cases from West Tennessee, the 1940 murder of NAACP member and voting registration activist Elbert Williams in Brownsville TN, and the 1968 death of teenager Larry Payne during the events of the Sanitation Workers Strike. The panel discussion features veteran Memphis journalists Karanja Ajanaku, Otis Sanford, Wendi C.
MEMPHIS, TN - The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis (LSP) Board President, Rich Watkins, will testify before the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands at a legislative hearing on H. R. 7912. This hearing is scheduled to be held on July 14, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET in 1324 Longworth House Office Building and via WebEx. The hearing will be live-streamed on the Committee’s YouTube page.
May 10, 2022 — The University of Memphis’ Institute for Public Service Reporting (IPSR) is launching a new investigative journalism project to explore racial injustice in the Mid-South and is hiring a veteran journalist to head it up.
We are honored and proud to report that the Lynching Sites Project of Memphis has received $25,000 dollars in funding from the Telling the Full History Fund—a grant program from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and made possible through the National Endowment for the Humanities’ American Rescue Plan Humanities Grantmaking for Organizations. To learn more about this program, visit https://savingplaces.org/neh-telling-full-history#.YlCHgm7MLDI
On Monday, March 21, 2022, around 20 students from Valor Christian School in Colorado made a return trip to Memphis to visit LSP's Ell Person's lynching site. This trip was part of their Spring Work Visit project. Good Shepherd United Methodist Church graciously hosted the group prior to the site visit, and LSP Board member John D Ashworth provided a spellbinding explication of the generational impact of slavery and racial violence on persons of color. LSP member Kelsey Lampkin gave a brief reprise of the incident and its impact on Memphis a century ago.
Since hearing the news of Sylvester Lewis’s passing my mind has been racing to put context to what it is that we lost. Sylvester’s passing was not only a loss for LSP but for the larger community beyond the borders of Shelby County. It was in my capacity as the Lynching Sites of Memphis (LSP) Project Manager for the 100th Memorialization of the lynching of Ell Persons that I met Sylvester in his capacity as Vice Chairperson of the Shelby County Historical Commission (SCHC).
In this episode, we talk with Jen Bennie, a researcher with Lynching Sites Project and the host of the YouTube channel "Walk with History." She investigated a case of an unnamed man who was lynched in Memphis on Jan , 1851. In this case, Black man shot the county clerk who declared his freedom papers a forgery as he attempted to board a boat headed north. It is the first recorded lynching in Shelby County and extremely rare to happen before the Civil War. Though more than two dozen papers reported the lynching, none mentioned his name.
Expanding on what we discussed in episode 3, Dr. Beth Lew-Williams shares the similarities and differences between lynching in the American West and South, especially as it relates to violence against Asian-Americans. “The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America.”