Chatham County is confronting horrific acts in its history with a new marker memorializing local victims of lynching.
On Saturday, community members and officials gathered at the Chatham County government annex in Pittsboro to unveil a marker remembering several Black people who were lynched in Chatham County between 1885 and 1921.
During this time, county officials said, white mobs terrorized and lynched at least six people in the county. Their names — Jerry and Harriet Finch, John Pattishall, Lee Tyson, Henry Jones and Eugene Daniel — are all on the plaque, preserving their memory and acknowledging their brutal murders.
“No mob participants were held accountable for lynching these individuals,” the county stated in a new release Monday.
With the help of the Community Remembrance Coalition Chatham, the NAACP, the Equal Justice Initiative and other community groups, this marker symbolizes a renewed commitment to racial justice.
The Equal Justice Initiative has helped place markers across North Carolina, while earlier this month, Orange County apologized for its past elected leaders’ role in perpetrating or condoning “criminal acts of racial terror lynching.”
“The families whose loved ones were murdered and the extended community that continued to live in the shadow of the terror of lynchings now have a remembrance of those lives and a public acknowledgment of the many failures of the system and the injustice that took them away,” said Karen Howard, the chair of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners.
At the end of Saturday’s dedication ceremony, attendees placed their hands on one another, joining in a communal prayer “as a sign of healing and hope,” the news release stated.
“It is our duty to remember these lives and commit to never letting this aspect of our collective history repeat itself,” Howard said.