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Soil collection ceremony commemorates 1925 Jacksonville lynching victim

Willie Washington remembered during ceremony

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project, an initiative of 904WARD, held a soil collection ceremony Sunday afternoon to commemorate a Black man who was the victim of a lynching 96 years ago in Duval County.

On January 31, 1925, Willie Washington was killed by police. His body was put on display in the rotunda of the county jail.

During Sunday’s ceremony, members of the community filled a jar with soil from the site of the lynching -- next to Union Street in downtown Jacksonville.

Speakers at the event say lynchings were meant to instill fear in Black communities and threaten their civil rights.

According to the Equal Justice Initiative, Duval County has seven documented lynchings with eight victims. Most of them have not been named yet.

Speakers at the ceremony say this tragic reality is one people of color still face today.

“We gather because we are in 2021, and we know that this history still matters. In this time of pandemic and racial reckoning, in a time in which we are hearing a collective scream from our streets of millions of people lifting up their voices for change and saying no more, we gather because we understand that there are ties that bond Willie Washington to Tamir Rice, to Ahmaud Arbery, to George Floyd and to Breonna Taylor,” said Hope McMath, a volunteer with the Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project.

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Groups like 904WARD and the Equal Justice Initiative say they work to increase awareness of racism, its history, trauma and impact today. They say the best way you can get involved is by teaching the truth about history.

The Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project is working to document and add detail to the known lynchings in Duval County, investigate additional cases, and identify living descendants of the victims.


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