New historical marker memorializes racial terror lynchings in Gainesville

Published: Oct. 23, 2021 at 5:27 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - There’s a new historical marker in Downtown Gainesville and it’s meant to recognize the truths of our past.

This marker serves as a reminder of the impact the Reconstruction-Era had on Black Americans.

“Florida had the highest per capita lynching rate in the United States, and 8 documented lynchings of Black people occurred in Gainesville during the reconstruction era,” said Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe.

Many gathered in front of the new marker listening as community leaders spoke about it’s historical significance.

The Equal Justice Initiative partnered with the county for this ceremony.

Leaders said while this marker is here to pay tribute to those who lost their lives from racial terror lynching, they also hope it serves as a reminder of all the work that needs to be done for racial justice.

“It involves us not just apologizing, which we need to do and recognizing the past, but also making material changes to make sure that we actually live in an equal society where people have equal opportunities, and we aren’t there yet,” said Lance Gravlee, a UF professor who attended the ceremony.

Fine arts students from the Caring and Sharing Learning School also took part by dancing and singing, through history.

“I felt happy when I did it, because it feels like history,” said 9-year-old dancer, Laila Stanley.

The president of a youth mentorship foundation said he was behind an equal justice program in Newberry, and is glad to be a part of this in Gainesville.

“The situation we’re in today wasn’t created just yesterday and unveiling the marker is not going to solve the problem,” said Charlie Jackson, President of Manhood Youth Development Foundation.

Jackson said this is just one step to creating a free country for all Americans.

“Good, bad, indifference, it is history, and it’s American history and America is by far the greatest country to live in,” said Jackson.

You can find the marker in front of the Alachua County Administration Building facing South Main Street.

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