It’s said every person dies twice: First when the body dies, and the second time when the last person to remember speaks the name of the dead.
George Green was a Black farmer killed by a white mob on Nov. 16, 1933, in the last of four documented lynchings in Greenville County. A local group is seeking to acknowledge and commemorate them so the memories of those victims are not forgotten.
The work of the Community Remembrance Project of Greenville County is a difficult but an essential step in promoting racial reconciliation and justice, according to Feliccia Smith, CRP co-chair.
“I think people are genuinely interested in having a conversation about our history,” she said. “It’s painful, it’s shameful, but we have to start somewhere.”
Being clear-eyed about what happened in the past and how that history shapes the present is a crucial step toward both understanding the deep wounds from the past and finding ways to heal those wounds, according to CRP co-chair Ellen Stevenson.
CRP was born in 2019 out of the Diversity Leaders Initiative at Furman University’s Riley Institute and works in conjunction with the Equal Justice Initiative to document lynchings and incidents of racial terror. Smith and Stevenson said the all-volunteer group has worked hard to create the space to have frank conversations about a history not everyone wants to acknowledge or remember.
“When we look at our past, there’s never been an acknowledgement on a national scale of the atrocities that took place in the United States,” Smith said. “The responsibility of CRP is to unearth the things that happened and then confront them.”
That work is accomplished through efforts like the dedication in October of a historical marker on West Main Street in Taylors commemorating Green’s death. CRP hosts community meetings and panel discussions centered around “restorative truth-telling.”
CRP also works in conjunction with Urban League of the Upstate, which serves as fiscal agent, on programming to strengthen community.
For more information, visit remembranceprojectgvlsc.org.