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City Commission approves monument and marker remembering African American victims of lynching

Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 6:11 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 9, 2020 at 9:10 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tallahassee City Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of allowing the Community Remembrance Project to create a monument and narrative marker, remembering African American victims of lynching in Tallahassee and Leon County.

The Community Remembrance Project first brought the item to the City Commission; that group now had more than thirty diverse partners, representing many areas of the community.

“This project is coming out of one that was originally done in Montgomery, Alabama, where they researched all of the lynchings that had occurred in this country during a certain period of time,” explained City Commissioner Curtis Richardson. “It was identified that there were four such lynchings that occurred Here in Tallahassee.”

The monument would match the Equal Justice Initiative's work.

"One is kind of a stone pillar that is a duplicate of what stands at the museum in Montgomery," said Rev. Sheldon Steen, a member of the Community Remembrance Project and Justice 850.

The narrative marker would have two sides.

“One side was written by our steering committee, and approved by the Equal Justice Initiative that tells the story of those individuals and puts in it in the context of striving for racial justice and the history of racial terror in Leon County. The other side was written by the equal justice initiative and provides a broader context on lynching,” said Steen.

The marker and monument will be located at the corner of Gaines and Meridian at the site of the old Leon County Jail.

"I'm hoping that this is just the beginning of remembering more things about our city that we can come together and work on," said Commissioner and Mayor Pro-Tem Dianne Williams-Cox.

"We need to begin by telling the truth and talking about these painful things in our past so that we can continue to work together and move forward as a community together," said Steen.

The Community Remembrance Project also says it is working with Leon County schools to create age-appropriate materials about that time of history.

You can read WCTV’s preview of this story below.

TALLAHASSEE, (WCTV) -- Tallahassee City Commissioners will discuss the creation of a narrative marker and monument remembering African American victims of lynching in Leon County at their virtual meeting on Wednesday.

The Community Remembrance Project has been working on the creation of the remembrances for years. The Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama documented lynchings of African Americans in 12 states, including Florida.

That project found four in Leon County.

As part of the remembrances in Tallahassee, the Community Remembrance Project is requesting the creation of a monument that duplicates the one in the museum in Montgomery. In addition, the group wants to create a marker, with one side discussing the lynchings in Leon County, the other discussing lynching in America.

City Commissioner Curtis Richardson says it's important not to forget our past.

“We can build on that past and improve relationships in our community today by having those discussions about what happened during a time in our community’s history that none of us would be proud of today,” said Commissioner Richardson.

The location for the proposed remembrances would be at the corner of East Gaines and South Meridian Streets.

According to the agenda item, multiple other cities have narrative markers including Annapolis, MD, Nashville, TN, and Orlando.

WCTV will update this story as it develops.

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