OXFORD, Miss. — A group hoping to place a memorial marker to lynching victims in Lafayette County, Mississippi will have to wait for state approval on what the plaque says and where it’s placed.
The Committee for Lynching Memorialization met with county supervisors Monday morning in Oxford, seeking approval to place the marker with the names of seven lynching victims on the lawn of the courthouse.
“The purpose of this committee is to bring to light the history of lynching in this county,” said Rev. Gail Stratton, one of several members of the group.
“We came to this meeting thinking it was the end of a process and we could go ahead and plan the unveiling. But we found we’re still in the middle of the process and it needs to involve more people,” she said.
Stratton says supervisors voted 4 to 1 to approve placing the marker on the courthouse lawn, but weren’t comfortable with the language proposed for the marker’s plaque.
“The supervisors had discomfort around one of the phrases that referred to the lynching of a man because there was an ‘alleged’ affair with a white woman,” she said.
According to Stratton, supervisors agreed the language and placement of the marker should be approved by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Committee members say supervisors want to “sugar coat” what happened by asking the committee to “tone down” the language on the marker.
They say there is already one plaque memorializing the lynching of Elwood Higginbottom in 1935, and it’s important to shed light on what happened, no matter how descriptive the language.
“Black people never talked about lynching,” Stratton said. “We never talked about it. Our parents never talked about it. And people don’t understand, we can’t heal about something we never talked about.”
We reached out to supervisors for a comment and were referred to the board’s president, who has not returned our call.