Decatur and Lithonia could soon be home to markers that will provide a solemn contextualization to a violent part of DeKalb County’s history.
Earlier in November, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Commissioner Larry Johnson to erect two Equal Justice Initiative historical markers describing the horror of lynchings in DeKalb County.
According to officials, DeKalb County supports the Remembrance Project Initiative of DeKalb’s chapter of the NAACP, which seeks to recognize and memorialize incidents of racial terrorism perpetrated throughout the United States and in localities, including DeKalb County. The Remembrance Project is informed by the work of the Equal Justice Initiative, headquartered in Montgomery, which recently opened its Memorial to Peace and Justice and Legacy Museum there.
“This is progressive and forward thinking on behalf of the Board of Commissioners to acknowledge lynching in DeKalb County and to identify relatives of those who experienced this terrible act,” Johnson said.
The historical markers will be placed outside of the courthouse in the Decatur Square and in the downtown area in the city of Lithonia.
The courthouse square in Decatur has been the focus of efforts to move or remove a 30-foot tall monument which stands at the county seat and is dedicated to Confederate soldiers. Now, officials are focused on putting that structure into context within a much wider discussion about racism and the effects it has had on DeKalb, a community where more than half of its 756,000 residents are African-American, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
Each marker will describe local lynchings and the effect these acts of violence had in DeKalb County and beyond. The victim stories include Reuben Hudson, Jr, lynched in Redan; Porter Turner, stabbed to death by members of the Ku Klux Klan in Druid Hills; and two unnamed black men who disappeared after being pursued by a mob in Lithonia.
“In many cases, the names of lynching victims were not recorded, revealing the indifference towards the injustices committed against them. Although many victims of racial terror lynching will never be known, at least 592 racial terror lynchings have been documented in Georgia,” states one side of the marker.
According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, DeKalb could be the first government entity in Georgia to erect a lynching marker on publicly-owned land. The county commission has already approved a resolution authorizing the marker and its placement on the grounds of the county courthouse. The DeKalb branch of the NAACP is in the process of raising money for the effort. Money is still needed to fund its installation and to host the public events that will surround the markers’ unveiling.
For more information, visit www.naacpdekalb.org/the-dekalb-county-rememberance-project.