The James Taylor Justice Coalition of Sumner Hall is a grass roots initiative of individuals and organizations of Kent County, Maryland, founded in July 2019. 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.”
In 2020, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) agreed to include the James Taylor Remembrance Coalition as part of its national Community Remembrance Project. This partnership brings many resources to our JTJC and links us to a powerful national initiative.
To learn more about the JTJC’s work, watch our current Power Point Presentation: