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Soil collection ceremony remembers man lynched 112 years ago in Jacksonville

A soil collection ceremony remembers a man who was lynched on Jacksonville's Westside in 1909. This is one of dozens of soil collections around the country that are taken back to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.
A soil collection ceremony remembers a man who was lynched on Jacksonville's Westside in 1909. This is one of dozens of soil collections around the country that are taken back to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A soil collection ceremony Sunday remembered a man who was lynched 112 years ago in Jacksonville.

The Equal Justice Initiative says reflecting on history is how we confront challenges we face today.

Groups gathered at the spot off Jones Road where historians say the man, whose name is unknown, was lynched on May 8, 1909.

“The soil holds what happened. It holds, as Lynn often says, it holds the tears, it holds the blood, it holds the memories of what has occurred on this land in the past,” said Melanie Patz, co-chair of the Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project.

Soil was collected in a jar that says “unknown.”

“A man whose name was never put in print, but yet still a man,” said Lynn Sherman, co-chair of the Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project

The Equal Justice Initiative says a white mob took the Black man into the wooded area, shot him multiple times and cut his throat. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, articles in the Florida Times-Union claim the mob lynched him after a white woman said he sexually assaulted her. There are records of similar false claims made against African Americans that led to them being killed between Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era around the country.

“He was unjustly treated. He was terror-lynched and murdered by the mob and that we need to face and address, and even today we are all impacted by what happened yesterday,” Sherman said.

Sherman says mass incarceration and police brutality, specifically of African Americans, has become a new form of lynching and says what happens must be acknowledged.

“Although we can’t say his name, it does not me he does not deserve to be memorialized. He was still a man -- a man who was treated unjustly,” Sherman said.

According to the Equal Justice Initiative, Duval County has seven documented lynchings with eight victims.

The organization sends the soil collected to the Equal Justice Initiative’s (EJI) National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

To learn more, visit 904WARD’s website.


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