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Lithonia, NAACP honor lynching victims with memorial

Lithonia, NAACP honor lynching victims with memorialOfficials from NAACP and city of Lithonia unveiled a lynching memorial in Kelly Park Feb. 24. NAACP officials said the memorial honors lynching victims in the Lithonia area.

"This marker actually brings a lot of significance to the day. Today marks one year and one day since Ahmaud Arbery was murdered," said NAACP DeKalb President Teresa Hardy. "It lets us know that today and going forward, we need to stay woke and stay engaged. We need to make sure we read up on our history, so we know where we've been and where we're going. We must be bold in understanding that we belong here and that Black lives truly matter."

NAACP officials also installed a lynching memorial—dedicated to all victims of racial terror—in front of the DeKalb County courthouse in Decatur in May and said they have plans for at least one more marker in DeKalb County.

"The one we installed today is dedicated to the victims who died and were connected to the city of Lithonia," said NAACP Remembrance Project Chair D.E. Smith. "Nowhere in this county is there anything—other than these markers—honoring the victims of racial terrorism."

The memorial describes racial terrorism that happened in Lithonia beginning in 1877. According to the marker, "After Reconstruction was abandoned in 1877, White mobs in Lithonia terrorized the Black community through lynchings that denied Black people their rights and equal protection under the law. On July 27, 1877, a White mob from Lithonia lynched Rueben Hudson near the Georgia Railroad stop in Redan."

The memorial states that officers who arrested Hudson for fitting the description of a wanted criminal handed him over to the White mob instead of protecting him. The memorial also states that five years later, another White mob from Lithonia "chased two unidentified Black men," and it was "generally understood that they were lynched."

Mob participants were not held accountable for the lynching, despite a "functioning legal system in DeKalb County," according to the memorial.

"Even though this history is something that a lot of people may not want to remember, it's important," said Lithonia Mayor Shameka Reynolds. "It's important to know where we came from and what happened to our ancestors."