A coalition of local organizations, called The Community Remembrance Project of Greenville County, SC, is holding a panel discussion its members hope will help heal old wounds stemming from past racial injustices in the Greenville area. 

The panel, which will be held Nov. 14 at Long Branch Baptist Church, is called “Say His Name: The Lynching of George Green.” George Green, who lived in Taylors, was killed in his bedroom on Nov. 16, 1933, following a dispute with his landlord, according to research done by the Equal Justice Initiative. In addition to raising awareness of Green’s story, the community dialogue will focus on present issues of gentrification and affordable housing in Greenville. The panelists have extensive backgrounds in criminal justice, affordable housing and racial justice, according to Traci Barr, who is the event coordinator at Mill Community Ministries.

“EJI believes that truth and reconciliation are sequential. We must address oppressive his-tories by honestly and soberly recognizing the pain of the past.” -Equal Justice Initiative

“We’ve had over 300 people register for the event, mostly through word of mouth. It’s exciting to see the community’s interest in this [discussion],” Barr said.

The local effort is inspired by the Equal Justice Initiative, a Montgomery, Alabama-based, nonprofit. In May 2018, EJI opened the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which memorializes 4,400 documented lynchings across the United States. Over 800 counties, largely concentrated in the Southeast, are represented by 800 steel monuments.

Visitors take in the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala. It honors lynching victims and has inspired locals to organize a panel discussing the history of the issue in Greenville County. Photo by Jessica Mullen.

According to the EJI website, “the memorial is more than a static monument. Outside the structure is a field of identical monuments, waiting to be claimed and installed in the counties they represent. Over time, the memorial will serve as a report on which parts of the country have confronted the truth of this terror and which have not.”

In 2019, EJI started the Community Remembrance Project, which allows counties to apply to install one of the 800 steel monuments in a permanent location in the county it represents. 

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice will memorialize 4,400 DOCUMENTED LYNCHINGS across the United States
Greenville County’s monument at the Monument for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. Photo by Jessica Mullen.

According to Barr, the effort to bring one of these monuments to Greenville was initiated by a group of community leaders who participated in the Diversity Leaders Institute at Furman University. Named The Community Remembrance Project of Greenville County, SC, the coalition of community organizations is working together to hold the event. Those organizations include: Greenville NAACP, Nicholtown Missionary Baptist Church, North Greenville University, Furman University, Village Engage, Soteria CDC, Upcountry History Museum, Long Branch Baptist Church, Mountain View Baptist Church, USC Upstate, St. Joseph’s Catholic School, United Way of Greenville County, and 212 Community Development Corporation. 

EJI’s monument denotes four recorded lynchings in Greenville County. George Green’s 1933 slaying was the most recent.

The community awareness event on Nov. 14 kicks off a two-year process that organizers hope will bring racial reconciliation to Greenville County.

A soil collection ceremony will be the next step, Barr said. The Equal Justice Initiative collects a clear jar of soil from each documented lynching location, which will be on display at their Montgomery museum.

Installation of a memorial marker will follow.

Tentatively planned for 2021, the group will bring home one of the EJI memorial stones from Montgomery and it will be installed at a permanent site in the city following a final community event at the Peace Center.

According to its website, “EJI believes that truth and reconciliation are sequential. We must address oppressive histories by honestly and soberly recognizing the pain of the past.”

The kick-off panel discussion will be from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 14 at Long Branch Baptist Church. Registration for the event can be found on Eventbrite under the event name, “Say His Name: The Lynching of George Green.”

THE NEXT STEPS

  • A soil collection ceremony will be the next step. The Equal Justice Initiative collects a clear jar of soil from each documented lynching location, which will be on display at their Montgomery museum as a memorial to the life tragically lost.
  • Installation of a memorial marker will follow.
  • Tentatively planned for 2021, the community will bring home one of the EJI memorial stones from Montgomery and it will be installed at a permanent site in the city following a final community event at the Peace Center.
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