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Supervisors Approve Sending Application to Archives and History for Courthouse Marker

By Alyssa Schnugg
News editor

Members of the Lynching Memorialization in Lafayette County Project made it over their first hurdle Monday to have a marker placed on the grounds of the historic Lafayette County Courthouse that remembers the seven known victims of lynching in the county.

The Supervisors approved sending the application and wording of the marker to the Department of Archives and History, and if the wording is approved by the DAH and any possible changes are approved by the Lynching Memorialization in Lafayette County Project, then the marker will be placed on the east side of the courthouse lawn.

A similar motion made by Supervisor Kevin Frye died for lack of a second. His motion was to approve the marker and placement subject to the approval from DAH. Supervisor David Rikard made the second motion, claiming he wanted to make sure that if DAH made changes to the wording, that the committee members and supervisors had a chance to review them before the marker was placed.

“I’m pretty sure that’s what my motion said,” Frye said, who then seconded Rikard’s motion. Frye also suggested that Rikard serve as a liaison between the board and the committee after the DAH reviews the marker.

Proposed working of the marker. Click to enlarge.

Supervisor Chad McLarty was the dissenting vote. He said he had no objections to the marker being placed but did have exceptions with some of the wording.

The plaque briefly lists the names of the seven known lynching victims and their alleged crimes. In one instance, the marker speaks about Will Steen, lynched near Paris for “reportedly talking about an alleged affair with a white woman.”

“If we’re going to put a marker on the courthouse lawn, I don’t want it to be hearsay or speculation,” McLarty said. “I’d like to know if we can change that or find out if that was a true statement or not … If we don’t know that for a fact, we can say we don’t know.”

The statement was based on newspaper documentation of the time, replied April Grayson, one of the committee members of Lynching Memorialization Project. She told the supervisors that the wording has been researched extensively by the Equal Justice Initiative, which is funding the marker.

Another committee member, Martha Scott suggested the committee could look into whether adding a cite to the newspaper edition where the information came from could be added to the plaque.

The work of the Lynching Memorialization in Lafayette County Project is being done as part of the “Community Remembrance Project,” which is a national lynching memorialization effort launched by the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama.

Other Lynching Memorialization Project committee members who spoke at the meeting, asking for the supervisors to approve the marker, included Effie Burt, Alonzo Hilliard, Gail Stratton and Randon Hill.


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