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Tallahassee Community Remembrance Project Hosts Memorial Tribute And History Lecture To Recall Leon County's Lynching Victims

Dennis Howard/used with permission
Florida State University History Professor Maxine Jones provided the contemporary accounts of the lynchings during the observance, which took place a few feet away from the former site of the old Leon County Jail.

The 4 men who died at the hands of Leon County lynch mobs between 1897 and 1937 were remembered on Saturday. The service was held was at the corner of Meridian and East Gaines streets at the historic marker near the site of the county's old jail. The Tallahassee Community Remembrance Project's Blan Teagle let off the short ceremony.

"The first annual remembrance of the lives and tragic death of Pierce Taylor, Mick Morris, Ernest Ponder and Richard Hawkins," he said, honoring the memories of the 4 individuals who were taken by mobs from the county jail and murdered.

Among the speakers was Florida State University History Professor Maxine Jones.

"It is my hope that you will feel some discomfort today as we acknowledge these individuals and call attention to the brutal and inhumane way that they died," she said, a direct reference to current moves by the Florida Legislature to ban such uncomfortable discussions in public schools. Tallahassee State Senator Lorrane Ausley, a Democrat, was the only lawmaker on hand at the remembrance.

"We had a racial reckoning in this country around the murder of George Floyd, a move toward diversity and inclusion and acknowledging the sins of the past, and now it looks like we're going in the wrong direction," she remarked afterward.

Saturday's ceremonies concluded with a history lecture at St. John's Episcopal Church. That featured a lecture by FSU History Professor Jennifer Koslow. Her presentation focused on the 6 Leon County African Americans who were lynched in Lake City on May 21, 1911.