Between 1865 and 1950, 4,000 Black Americans were victims of racial terror and violence in the form of racial lynchings. Of the approximated 40 victims of whom were Marylanders, five were from Anne Arundel County. On June 15 of this year, Connecting the Dots Anne Arundel County in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative hosted Remembrance and Reconciliation, an event devoted to the rededication of the historical marker of the lynchings that occurred in Anne Arundel County.
Previously near the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial, the marker was located on Calvert Street in Annapolis until mid 2020 when it became damaged after getting hit by a bus. Because of its highly trafficked location and small chance of being damaged, the memorial has now been moved to the Severna Park Library.
The June 15 event featured speakers from all types of organizations - from the Anne Arundel County Public Library and the Student Member of the Board of Education, to the Caucus of African American Leaders and County Executive Steuart Pittman - who came together to prove the importance of the recognition of a piece of Anne Arundel County’s history.
Elliot Spillers, a representative from the Equal Justice Initiative and a member of the team that helped organize this enterprise, also spoke in front of the 100-plus person crowd.
“Silence for too long has facilitated the erasure of victims in Anne Arundel County,” said Spillers, breaking the moment of silence that preceded his speech.
Emphasizing the importance of the process of truth before reconciliation, Spillers stated that the recognition of this truth is the only way to true justice in terms of beginning to change the narrative surrounding this nation’s history of racially motivated lynchings.
After the bus accident in 2020, Connecting the Dots and the Equal Justice Initiative decided to relocate the marker, signifying that the history of this county extends beyond the boundaries of Annapolis.
When asked why the Severna Park Library was chosen for the next permanent home, co-chair of Connecting the Dots Monica Lindsey said, “A prominent place where people can learn and see shouldn’t go to waste.” Her comment added onto the speech given by Skip Auld, the CEO of the Anne Arundel County Public Library, in which Auld stated that the hope of the library leadership was that generations of people would be inspired to educate themselves on the true history of our county.
Appreciative of all who attended, Lindsey, Spillers and all other members of this event urged the public to remind themselves that this venture is only the first step. This historical marker will serve as a touchstone of reflection on the promise of the community to be active participants in the journey to true justice, not just on a local level but also on a state and national level.
The Anne Arundel County victims of racial lynchings are listed below:
- John Sims, Annapolis (March 23, 1875)
- George Briscoe, Jacobsville (November 26, 1884)
- Wright Smith, Annapolis (October 5, 1898)
- Henry Davis, Annapolis (December 21, 1906)
- King Johnson, Brooklyn (December 23, 1922)