JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A group of volunteers is uncovering a dark part of Jacksonville’s history: the horrific lynchings that took place in Duval County.
The Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project received the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Empowerment Award last week. The project is working to document and add detail to the seven known lynchings in Duval County, investigate additional cases and identify living descendants of the victims.
Dr. Kimberly Allen, CEO of 904WARD, which has partnered with this all-volunteer effort, joined “The Morning Show” on Monday to talk about why the project so important.
“Just at our last soil collection ceremony, we honored Mr. Eugene Burnam. We learned that he was brutally beaten and shot to death and his killers fled town,” Allen said. “Eventually one of them even became a police officer.”
A soil collection ceremony honors the victims who were brutally and publicly murdered. The lack of humanity in those killings versus the reverence in this ceremony is important to acknowledge.
“It is a way to honor those victims with dignity that they were denied with their unjust killings,” Allen said.
Jacksonville’s lynchings were part of an epidemic that took place across 20 states between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and 1950. These lynchings were meant to terrorize Black people and make them never rise up and try to fight back. Allen said that even today, silence in the face of injustice is not an option.
“It requires a boldness and a togetherness that can be uncomfortable at times but necessary. We have to be willing to call out things that are not right, injustices that we see -- protests, march, write letters to your elected officials, advocate for policy changes,” Allen said. “It requires all of that so we can move forward together.”
If you would like to volunteer to assist in the project, or if you believe you may be a descendant of lynching victims, you can send an email to JCRP@904ward.org.