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Community Remembrance Project works towards monuments to honor Leon County lynching victims

Posted at 11:13 PM, Jul 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-06 23:18:03-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Partners with Tallahassee's Community Remembrance Project are asking the city to approve a narrative-marker and monument to honor African American victims of lynching in Leon County.

Sheldon Steen is the president of Justice 850 and a local pastor. He says they're looking to the past to heal the future.

"It's the first step in much larger longer work that we have before us," said Steen.

He's partnered with the Community Remembrance Project to place a marker acknowledging Tallahassee and Leon County's history of lynchings between 1897 and 1937.

There are four recorded in the county.

Mike Morris in 1897, Pierce Taylor in 1909, and Ernest Ponder and Richard Hawkins in 1937.

"If we want to create real change within our communities it starts by telling the truth," Steen said.

The marker would go on the southside of Gaines Street between Meridian and Gadsden Street where the old Leon County Jail used to sit.

Those leading this project are asking the city to approve their request on Wednesday.

"I'm hoping that this project will allow for our whole community to have a place and a point by which they can come together and we learn and listen to each other and engage in some healing work," said Byron Greene, a committee member of the Community Remembrance Project.

A duplicate Leon County monument will also go up, like the one in Montgomery, Alabama.

Greene says this is the time to do this while the nation is willingly addressing race issues.

"I think it's a timely project," Greene said. "I think its a necessary project. I think it's relevant."

Over 33 churches and organizations have partnered in the hope of seeing the project come to fruition.

Now they are looking to the commission to help them bring this history to light.

"By acknowledging it, it allows us a pathway to move forward into the future to create a better society together," said Greene.

If approved, it could take six to nine months for the marker and monument to be installed.

The project would be privately funded.

The Community Remembrance Project has been a long time coming. Planning began in 2018.