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.
CW: Brief description of a historical lynching
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.
Photos by Karen Scrivo and Aaron Tinch