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Memorializing Racially-Motivated Deaths Beyond Lynchings

Beth J. Harpaz
AP Photo
Visitors at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala. The memorial includes some 800 markers, one for each county in the U.S. where lynchings took place, documenting the killings of more than 4,400 individuals between 1877 and 1950

From the late 1800s through the middle of the 20th century, lynchings were a widespread form of racial violence against African-Americans in the southern United States. 

A new memorial in Alabama honors and memorializes those who died at the hands of brutal lynch mobs. But many racially-motivated killings during that time were not officially lynchings.

WUNC military reporter Jay Priceretraces the story of one of those cases. Private Booker T. Spicely was shot and killed by a Durham bus driver after he complained about having to move to the back of the bus. The incident came more than a decade before Rosa Parks would protest staying in her seat. Pricerevisits this piece of Durham history with host Frank Stasio and reflects on the risk of letting these stories fade with time.

Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
Laura Pellicer is a digital reporter with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
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