The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis enthusiastically supports the removal of the statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis. Our deep thanks goes out to TakeEmDown901, the Mayor, city legal team, the City Council and many others. Our mission is to locate and memorialize all the sites of lynchings that took place in Shelby County. Over 500 Memphians, about half white and half black, along with members of the Jewish, Islamic and Latino communities, Mayor Strickland, Mayor Luttrell, and Congressman Cohen and other leaders gathered last May to remember and place historical markers at the site of the 1917 lynching of Ell Persons.
It is not possible that either Jefferson Davis or Nathan Bedford Forrest will be lost to history. But what has been lost is the age or racial terrorism in Shelby County. Our Research Committee has found clear evidence of at least 18 lynchings that occurred in Shelby County between 1851 and 1939. The victims’ names are: Frank Jones, Wash Henley, John Schofield, Jim Eastman, Calvin McDowell, Thomas Moss, William Stewart, Richard Neal, Lee Walker, Warner Williams, Daniel Hawkins, Robert Hayes, Edward Hall, John Hayes, Graham White, Tom Burns, Ell Persons, Tommie Williams, Harry Ross, Jesse Lee Bond. Research continues on 11 additional cases.
Alongside those working to REMOVE symbols of white supremacy from Memphis we will continue our work to ADD to our community markers and memorials to those whose stories have been hidden far too long. We will also continue to create spaces where the deeper conversations about race can take place.
Mayor Strickland has challenged us to join in casting “the Memphis we want for our next hundred years.” We want a Memphis where the whole truth is told, where we acknowledge the shameful parts of our past, grow into new levels of healing and integrity and find ways to both work around and change laws that sustain racism. We want a city with abundant opportunities for conversations that awaken and heal us.
Rev. Randall Mullins, President
Lynching Sites Project of Memphis