On March 11, 2023, members of the Prince George’s County Lynching Memorial Project, the Chapel Hill Citizen Association, and youth volunteers and their mentors from Union Bethel Church gathered at the lot adjoining Grace United Methodist Church in Fort Washington to collect soil in remembrance of the life and tragic death of Thomas Juricks, at the approximate site of his death. On October 12, 1869, Juricks became the victim of a racial terror lynching in Piscataway; he is the earliest known victim in Prince George’s County.
On April 15, 2023, over 200 county residents, PGCLMP volunteers, political leaders, and others gathered at Harmony Hall Regional Center to tell the truth of this historic tragedy, memorialize Mr. Juricks and give him the home-going he has always deserved, and dream together of how we can advance toward a future where the lingering affects of racial terror lynchings give way to true progress and equality for all.
Please enjoy this video compilation of some images from this meaningful event, created by PGCLMP member and co-secretary Katie Pugliese.
Thank you to everyone who made our Soil Collection a huge success.
We are still celebrating the packed house (200 seats); the talented chorus, soloist, dancer, and poet from local high schools; evocative adult poet and soloist; our moving speakers; the support of the staffs of Prince George’s County Parks’ Black History Program and Harmony Hall; and the reverent participation by so many in the soil collection ceremony to honor Mr. Juricks, led by Chapel Hill residents and students who built the Memorial Carts and dug up the soil in nearby Chapel Hill. Mr. Thomas Juricks will never again be forgotten!
We wanted to share with everyone links to the digital version of the beautiful and history-packed Printed Program for the event and to our media coverage:
This moving program will tell the story of Mr. Thomas Juricks, a Black laborer and farmhand who lived with his family in the Piscataway area near Fort Washington and was extrajudicially murdered by a masked mob of White men on October 12, 1869. The historical aspects of his life and tragic lynching will be paired with a long overdue send-off for Mr. Juricks that will acknowledge and honor him through a libation ceremony, soil collection, music, poetry and dance. Students of several local schools will be performing. Opportunities will be provided to the entire community to reflect and acknowledge that his life mattered and understand how this violent history reverberates into present-day issues such as white supremacy, mass incarceration and educational disparities between races.
“It has been our honor to collaborate with the Chapel Hill community of Fort Washington in researching the history of the lynching that took place there and in presenting what we hope will meaningfully honor the life taken and commit us all to the cause of racial justice in Prince George’s County,” stated the PGC LMP Co-Chairs Crystal Carpenter, Rev. Diane Teichert, and Krystina Tucker.
PGC LMP is a registered non-profit, all-volunteer organization affiliated with Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project (MDLMP). Its mission is to educate the public on the truths of our nation’s continuing legacy of the institution of slavery and its impact on enslaved persons and their descendants, memorialize victims of racial terror lynchings in our county, and advance the cause of racial justice and reconciliation through mutual support and collaboration.
Across Maryland, neighbors and stakeholders are stepping forward to honor the memories of victims of racial terror lynching in our communities. Montgomery County recently held a procession and soil collection ceremony which gives us ideas for our direction as our work continues. Please watch.
Sidney Thomas writes a powerful and beautiful piece for Black History month by remembering the name and story of William Burns, the only black man lynched in Allegancy County in western Maryland. The article offers us a glimpse of a soil collection ceremony, a project we are working to do in the Piscataway, Maryland area. Please read as we share stories throughout this month:
The soil was collected by Ms. Fisher and other local volunteers at the Allegany County courthouse site on Washington Street where Williams Burns, an African-American man, was brutally lynched on October 6, 1907 by an all white mob – some of whom were members of the Ku Klux Klan. The soil was collected as part of the Equal Justice Initiative Community Remembrance Project – in association with the Allegany County Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Committee. EJI is a nationwide organization working to confront prejudice and heal our nation’s history of racial injustice.
The 1869 lynching of Thomas Juricks became more tangible for members of the PG County Lynching Memorial Project during a January tour of four Piscataway sites connected to this horrific chapter of the county’s history.
A mob wearing handkerchiefs with eyeholes cut out lynched Juricks, who was awaiting trial after being accused on flimsy evidence of raping a white woman. He worked on a farm in Piscataway and lived nearby with his family.
During the tour led by PGCLMP member Blair Bowie, we learned more about what is believed to be the county’s first lynching, identified possible locations for a soil collection community remembrance project, considered ways to involve the local communities (Clinton and Fort Washington) and discussed areas for further research.
The tour included:
Old Piscataway Town, the closest town to Juricks’ home (Clinton)
Likely site of Thomas Juricks’ home, site roughly marked in 1878 (Fort Washington)
Hatton’s Hill, location of a Black schoolhouse and area where Juricks is reported to be buried (Fort Washington)
Chapel Hill, a thriving post Civil War African American farming community that established a Freedman’s Bureau school and meeting house. (Fort Washington)
Members of the PGCLMP were joined by representatives of The Accokeek Foundation and other interested county residents.