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Lynching victims remembered, mourned at Chatham County event

Chatham County lynching
Chatham County Democratic Party
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About 100 people attended a service to honor the memories of five people who were lynched in Chatham County, North Carolina, more than a century ago.

The News & Observer reports that the service held Saturday was organized by local NAACP branches with support from the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative, based in Montgomery, Alabama. The group encourages researchers around the country to gather and share information about lynchings that happened in their communities.

According to the EJI, researchers have documented 123 “terror lynchings” of African Americans in North Carolina between 1877 and 1950. Those were among 4,084 that have been documented in Southern states during that time.

A series of readers recounted the events leading up to the lynchings, while another group of volunteers scooped Chatham County dirt into jars symbolizing the places where the lynchings took place.

The service honored the memories of Harriet Finch, Jerry Finch, John Pattishall and Lee Tyson, who were lynched in 1885, and Henry Jones, lynched in 1899.

Karen Howard, chair of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, said the service felt like a kind of healing.

“Those spirits can go free. That hurt, that anger, that code of silence around it, has dissipated," she said.

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