By Alyssa Schnugg
Descendants of at least three of the seven known men who were lynched in Lafayette County attended Saturday’s dedication of a memorial marker that is located on the Courthouse lawn.
The ceremony was originally planned to happen in September; however, due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, the larger celebration was pushed off until this past Saturday.
The memorial marker honors the memories of the local lynching victims and is part of the work being conducted by the members of the Lafayette Community Remembrance Project.
Don Cole, a retired professor and administrator from the University of Mississippi, hosted the event that was held in front of City Hall and lasted about an hour and a half.
After a welcome by Alonzo Hilliard, Lafayette County students read the names of the seven victims.
Speakers included April Grayson with the LCRP, Keiana West and Cyan Blackwell from the Equal Justice Initiative; the Rev Gail Stratton with the LCRP; Prof. Diane Harriford with Vassar College and the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project; Randon Hill with LCRP.
Alderman Kesha Howell-Atkinson and Preston Taylor spoke on behalf of the city of Oxford and welcomed everyone to the event and thanked those organizations that were involved in making it a reality.
The Ole Miss Gospel Choir, singer/songwriter Lenny Kaye and local singer Effie Burt performed during the ceremony.
One side of the marker lists six of the men who were lynched in Lafayette County and the details surrounding the lynchings: Harris Tunstal, killed July 12, 1885; William McGregory killed Nov. 13, 1890; “unknown victim” killed Sept. 2, 1891; William Steen killed July 30, 1893; William Chandler killed June 19, 1895; Lawson Patton killed Sept. 8, 1908.
The other side of the marker speaks on lynchings in the United States and the history of Elwood Higginbottom’s, who was killed on Sept. 17, 1935, at the age of 28 while he was being held in the Oxford jail for the murder of landowner Glen Roberts.
The marker is paid for by the Equal Justice Initiative.