Oxford Lynching Memorialization

By: Ellie Greenberger

This Saturday, Oct. 27th at 2 p.m., the city of Oxford will install a new marker that memorializes lynching victim Elwood Higginbotham. The installation will also accompany a memorial service and community meal held at Second Baptist Church. Higginbotham was lynched in 1935 by a mob after he shot and killed Glen Roberts, a white man who invaded his home.

“A lot of people think about these crimes like lynching, these crimes of racial terror as things in the distant past and that they can feel that way but really it wasn't that long ago,” Professor Vanessa Gregory said.

Gregory wrote an article for New York Time Magazine about the Higginbotham lynching after meeting and talking with surviving members of his family. Higginbotham’s son will be in attendance at the event.

The memorial service will feature Effie Burt, a singer who will sing Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday, and songs from members of the Ole Miss Choir.

“I would call it a funeral, a proper burial for Mr. Higginbotham,” Burt said.

While this is the first markers of its kind, the Oxford community also hopes to make a marker for each of the other people that were lynched.

“This is the first one but we are hoping that we will be able to do it for some of these others,” research subcommittee member, Jeff Jackson, said.

The steering committee and research committee have worked to plan the logistics of the event and the words to go on the marker as well. The marker will be placed at the corner of North Lamar Road and Molly Barr.

Lynching Victims in Lafayette County

  • Harris Tunstal: July 12, 1885

 

  • Will McGregory: Nov. 13, 1890

 

  • Unnamed African American: Sept. 2, 1891

 

  • William Chandler: June 18,1895

 

  • William Steen: July 30, 1893

 

  • Lawson Patton: Sept. 8, 1908

 

  • Elwood Higginbotham: Sept. 7, 1935