The James Taylor Lynching Remembrance Coalition is a grass roots initiative of individuals and organizations of Kent County, Maryland, founded in July 2019 and is a Sumner Hall initiative. It is named in memory of James Taylor, who was lynched in Chestertown in 1892 – one of at least 40 African Americans murdered by white mobs in Maryland between 1884 and 1933. The intention of the coalition is to publicly recognize that our community fell far short of our legal and moral obligations to provide equal justice for all when James Taylor became a victim of racial terrorism.

Members of the coalition are inspired by other communities and encouraged by the state law (HB#307) that established the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the first of its kind in the nation. It passed unanimously in both the Maryland House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Hogan in February 2019. We also appreciate the work of the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project – a 501(c)(3) corporation established “to advance the cause of reconciliation in our state by documenting the history of racial terror lynchings, advocating for public acknowledgement of these murders, and working to honor and dignify the lives of the victims.”

We believe that acknowledging the unvarnished truth about the legacy of slavery is fundamental to unifying our community in peace and harmony, enabling us to work together to address the ongoing challenge of present-day racism.  In the words of Lonnie G. Bunch, III, Fourteenth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution: “Let us use history to inspire us to push a country forward, to help us believe that all things are possible and to demand a country lives up to its stated ideals.” During his 2017 visit to Sumner Hall,   Dr. Bunch said: “By remembering, you not only honor and learn from the past but also shape the future.”

Racial Terror Lynchings – Then and Now

Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission
https://msa.maryland.gov/lynching-truth-reconciliation/

Maryland Lynching Memorial Project
https://www.mdlynchingmemorial.org/about-us

Equal Justice Initiative
https://eji.org/racial-justice/

Equal Justice Initiative Community Remembrance Project
https://eji.org/projects/community-remembrance-project/

It Was a Modern-Day Lynching: Violent Deaths Reflect a Brutal American Legacy
https://msa.maryland.gov/lynching-truth-reconciliation/pdf/national-geographic-article.pdf

A Reckoning:  The Lynching of James Taylor in Chestertown
https://chestertownspy.org/2020/07/13/a-reckoning-the-lynching-of-james-taylor-in-chestertown/

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived; but if faced with courage need not be lived again.”

– Maya Angelou, On the Pulse of Morning

 

Sumner Hall speaks to the importance of African American experiences from 1619 to the present day. The veterans who founded Charles Sumner Post #25, Grand Army of the Republic, subscribed to a set of values that guided their lives and inspire us today: faith,

Sumner Hall’s initiatives, exhibitions, programs and activities are designed to advance its mission of:

  • preserving Sumner Hall as a place of remembrance of the contributions of African Americans who served in the U.S. Civil War;
  • honoring all African American veterans of the United States Armed Services;
  • promoting an understanding of the African American experience within the overall context of American History and Culture; and,
  • advocating for social and racial justice for all.

The James Taylor Lynching Remembrance Coalition meets monthly at Sumner Hall or virtually via Zoom.  To learn more, contact Sumner Hall by email (info@sumnerhall.org) or by phone (443-282-0023).