I was ignorant of the Moore’s Ford mass lynching until I joined the news staff at The Walton Tribune.
I am trying to remedy that gap in my education.
I recently read one author’s take on the extent of the violence perpetuated against the Black community right here in Walton County. My editor, David Clemons, lent me a copy of “Robert E. Lee and Me,” by Ty Seidule. I read Chapter 3 first. I was shocked to learn of other similar crimes in Georgia, several of which occurred in my lifetime.
There are other books I also plan to read: “Fire in a Cane Break,” by Laura Wexler and “The Last Lynching,” by Anthony S. Pitch. These books focus on the atrocity committed at Moore’s Ford Bridge.
I want to understand what happened to George and Mae Murray Dorsey and Roger and Dorothy Malcom. I will never understand why it happened. I simply cannot comprehend the hate that drives people to commit evil acts against their fellow human beings who just happen to be different from them.
This past April I covered the annual walk to the bridge, and in July I wrote about the reenactment of the Moore’s Ford murders. Growing up observing Yom HaShoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day — I understand the importance of remembering victims of mass murder and the vow “Never again.”
I can only imagine the loss and frustration Walton County’s Black community must collectively feel about the crime and the fact it remains unsolved. Someone knows something and continues to hold back. Their silence makes them an accessory to the crime.
I doubt any accomplices to the murders are still living.
I view it this way: Only 75 years separates the victims from their descendants — whether or not they are blood related. When we Jews celebrate our freedom each year at Passover, or grieve for the 6 million — it is as if we, personally, exalt or suffer along with our forbears. Time is fluid; the past is the present.
Therefore, this horrific slaying of four innocent people is just one step away from today’s generation. If it happened to them, it could happen to us.
I was touched by the emotion that overwhelmed Monroe City Councilwoman Myoshia Crawford when she described the Malcoms and Dorseys as family during a council work session on Sept. 7. Mayor John Howard and the council had discussed the draft letter acknowledging the lynching.
I was impressed when Diversity Advisory Board Chair and Co-Chair Rashaad Ansley and Carlos Thompson spoke to the City Council on Sept. 14.
Ansley said working toward racial equity today would give Monroe’s children hope for tomorrow.
Thompson asked for an apology, rather than an acknowledgment. And he also pointed out that there are individuals holding back valuable information about the lynching. Information that would hold the guilty accountable and allow the community to heal.
Councilman David Dickinson commented that his religious faith leads him to leave the world a better place. Which is why he has pledged to continue working toward repairing racial relations and addressing poverty in our community.
My religious faith commands the same. As it says in the Torah (Deuteronomy 16:18) “Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof,” meaning “Justice, justice, you shall pursue.”
Keeping silent is wrong. Do what is right. Speak.
Denise Etheridge is a staff writer for The Walton Tribune. Her email address is email@example.com.