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Daviess County monument for lynching victims waiting to be claimed in Alabama

June 29, 2020

The names of the lynching victims in Daviess County are etched into a six-foot steel column in Montgomery, Ala., at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. | Photo courtesy of John Lumea

The names of the lynching victims in Daviess County are etched into a six-foot steel column in Montgomery, Ala., at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The monument is waiting to be claimed as a part of the Equality Justice Initiative’s Lynching Marker Project.

The national memorial is dedicated to the thousands of Black people who lost their lives due to racial inequality. On each column is the name of the county and the people who were lynched there.

Daviess County’s column has three names etched into it.

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According to the EJI website, “the Community Remembrance Project partners with community coalitions to memorialize documented victims of racial violence throughout history and foster meaningful dialogue about race and justice today.” 

Rhondalyn Randolph, president of the Owensboro NAACP chapter, said the beams are supposed to give honor to those who have lost their life to lynchings.

“The emphasis is supposed to be on honoring the dead and having accountability for what was done to them so that communities across the country can start to heal from the effects of slavery and Jim Crow,” Randolph said.  

There are more than 800 hundred monuments that represent American counties in which than 4,400 racial terror lynchings took place between 1877 and 1950.

Lynching is a premeditated extrajudicial killing by a group and is most often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob. Public hangings — such as the one in Daviess County 1936 — are not considered lynchings.

As discussions spark locally on what the community should do about the Confederate statue that stands at the Daviess County Courthouse, there are suggestions to replace the it with this monument.

Owensboro native John Lumea, who visited the Peace and Justice memorial in January, only recently shared thoughts of his experience and photos of his visit on social media. 

”I’d like to present these on Facebook and wherever else at a time when there is a discussion going on,” Lumea said. “I hope that as decision makers in Owensboro are trying to consider what they might do … there might be an opportunity there to incorporate (the monument) on the courthouse lawn.”

Locals including members of the Owensboro Human Relations Commission previously looked at coordinating meetings to discuss the project in 2018, but efforts fizzled.

“I want to do the project,” Randolph said. “It has always stayed in the back of my mind.”

David Smith, director of legislative services at Daviess County Fiscal Court, said the placement of any memorial on County property begins with the organizers. Smith said the county only accepts requests and doesn’t initiate or get involved in the planning process. 

According to the EJI, “The process of local communities claiming their memorial monuments is thus about much more than transporting and installing the physical monuments themselves. Rather, it first requires an effort to encourage communities across the nation to engage in genuine and sustained work that advances a new era of truth and justice by confronting racial history in a way most communities have never done.”

June 29, 2020

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