Time for Tyler

by E.R. Bills / May 20th, 2016

On May 15, I attended the Jesse Washington Memorial in Waco, Texas.

On the hundredth anniversary of the Waco Horror, the mayor of Waco, Malcolm Duncan, Jr., formally apologized for the incident—the burning at the stake of Jesse—who was mentally handicapped and just seventeen years old. Jesse had been accused of killing a 53-year-old white woman named Lucy Fryar, and 10,000-15,000 white folks cheered as his flesh was publicly broiled and his body was reduced to cinder. Onlookers snatched up charred mementoes and the scenes of the atrocity became popular lynching postcards.

It’s too late for the city of Tyler to acknowledge and/or apologize for the burnings at the stake of  African Americans Henry Hillard or Dan Davis in the courthouse square on the 100th anniversaries of these acts of terror. Hillard was put to the torch in 1895 and Davis, 1912. But this coming May 25 will mark the 104th year to the day that Davis met his cruel, unfair and hellish fate. And Tyler should look to Waco’s example.

On May 13, 1912, a 16-year-old white girl named Carrie Johnson was attacked along the railroad tracks just outside of Tyler at approximately 2:30 pm. Her assailants reportedly “criminally assaulted” her, knocked out some of her teeth, partially crushed her skull and then cut her throat and left her for dead.

Johnson survived, her attackers’ knives reportedly narrowly missing her jugular vein. She was discovered the next morning…

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