Sumner Hall has a tradition of promoting social justice – from the work of the founders until today. Education and Action are our tools.
When a group of local citizens were inspired to study the history of terror lynchings in our area, the Board of Directors of Sumner Hall endorsed this initiative. This group was further inspired when it learned that Governor Hogan signed a law on April 18, 2019, that established the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission – the first of its kind in the nation.
At least 40 African Americans were lynched by white mobs in Maryland between 1854-1933 and no person was ever tried, convicted, or otherwise brought to justice for participating in these racially motivated lynchings. In addition, various state, county, and local government entities colluded in the commission of these crimes and conspired to conceal the identities of the parties involved. No victim’s family or community ever received a formal apology or compensation from state, county, or local government entities for the violent loss of their family members. In 1882, James Taylor was lynched by a white mob on Cross Street in Chestertown, Maryland.
Calling itself the James Taylor Lynching Memorial Coalition, the group meets at Sumner Hall at 7:30 pm each third Wednesday of the month. Members are conducting research and visiting other communities in Maryland that are addressing terror lynchings. The coalition, co-chaired by Philip Dutton and Larry Wilson, is committed to finding ways to educating our community about this forgotten subject in American History.
The first step in this educational process took place in the form of a public meeting on October 20, 2019, at Sumner Hall. Around sixty community members listened to presentations by state leaders and discussed ways this subject could be addressed in Kent County. Additional community engagements will explore the range of issues discussed at that meeting and any plan of action will be informed by these sessions.
REFERENCES – TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION REFERENCES
https://www.mdlynchingmemorial.org/ (WBOC video)
https://eji.org/legacy-museum (3-minute video: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration)
https://museumandmemorial.eji.org/memorial (3-minute video:Why build a lynching memorial?)
https://eji.org/community-remembrance-project (7-minute video:Abbeville)
https://eji.org/news/delaware-dedicates-historical-marker-victims-lynching (article about the dedication of a historical marker in Wilmington featuring Savannah Shepherd)