The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis has hired a new project manager to oversee the memorialization of Ell Persons, an African-American man burned alive a century ago in Shelby County.
African-American historian John Ashworth will lead a citywide interfaith prayer service May 21st at the site where Persons was murdered, nearly 100 years to the date it occurred. Newspapers in 1917 created a spectacle of Persons' death for days leading to it, gathering thousands of people to what is now Summer and the Wolf River. After he was set afire, Persons was decapitated and taken to Beale Street, and his head was hurled at a group of black pedestrians.
"What is the effect of the trauma on the African-American community from the terrorism that was placed on them?" Ashworth said. "There is so much hidden pain, and it's having a tremendous negative effect on the entire country — not just African Americans. I think it's important that we tell the true story about these things."
"We need to find a way to have open and honest conversations with each other about how we feel about race," Ashworth said. "It's when we pretend there are no problems that we run into problems."
Jan 12 2017 (all day)