At 10:00 AM On Saturday, November 9, 2019, Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past students will participate in Soil Gathering at the site of a lynching of Mr. William Taylor in Sandusky, Ohio on September 4, 1878. The program will begin at the Gazebo in Washington Park followed by a short “Walk of Reflection” to the corner of Columbus Ave. and Market St. for the soil gathering.
Mr. Taylor, accused of killing a white woman, was arrested and detained by the sheriff. While he was being transferred by the sheriff, a mob took him, put a noose around his neck and dragged him down the street to the corner of Columbus Ave. and Market St. in downtown Sandusky and hanged him from a lamppost.
Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past initiated this project and is partnering with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, the Sandusky NAACP and the Erie County Historical Society in the Sandusky Soil Collection Community Project.
The soil collected will be sent to Montgomery, Alabama to be housed in the Legacy Museum, which is dedicated to raising awareness of more than 4000 individuals, who were lynched in the United States. The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, dedicated to the legacy of people terrorized by lynching, opened to the public in April, 2018.
In June of 2018, Penny Wells and Derrick McDowell visited the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama which opened under the leadership of Bryan Stevenson, director of Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). The Legacy Museum “explores slavery and segregation in horrific detail and argues that when segregation ended, mass incarceration began.” The Memorial honors more than 4,000 individuals, who were lynched between 1877 and 1950. There are steel columns with the names of those lynched by counties in the South and by states if lynched in the North. We often think lynchings occurred only in the South. There are fifteen names on the Ohio column. Inside the museum are large jars of dirt collected from sites where people were lynched. There are no jars of dirt from lynching sites in Ohio.
Penny Wells took Sojourn students to visit the Legacy Museum and the Memorial last April. Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past decided they needed to initiate the gathering of dirt at lynching sites in Ohio so their state can be represented in the Legacy Museum to honor those, who were lynched here in Ohio.
Penny reached out to EJI regarding the gathering of the soil in Sandusky and also contacted Daryl Murphy, president of the Sandusky NAACP, and the Erie County Historical Society. Daryl and Penny began to work to organize the Soil Gathering Event to honor William Taylor, to recognize what horrific deed happened here at the hands of the citizens of Sandusky and to work for reconciliation and healing.
Bryan Stevenson, director of Equal Justice Initiative, believes that until the United States can acknowledge what horrific deeds took place in this country, we cannot have reconciliation and begin to move forward.