SALISBURY — Dozens of people gathered in an Eastern Shore city Saturday for the unveiling of a memorial honoring three young Black men who were lynched by white mobs in a Maryland county decades ago.
The “Silent No More” event in Salisbury paid tribute to Garfield King, Matthew Williams and an unknown man who also was lynched in Wicomico County.
The Salisbury Daily Times reports that people marched through the streets of downtown Salisbury for the unveiling of the memorial plaque and speeches by local leaders and relatives of the lynching victims. The memorial is in front of a courthouse where King and Williams were killed.
The event’s sponsors included the Salisbury Lynching Memorial Task Force. A task force member, James Yamakawa, said the memorial “won’t change what happened” but issues a “challenge to tell the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it is.”
“Not just the truth about who we were, but the truth about who we still are,” he added. “And if we can tell the truth, then maybe together we can figure out where we’re going.”
The Salisbury Lynching Memorial Task Force’s website says King, an 18-year-old Black man, was lynched in 1898 after he allegedly shot and killed a 22-year-old white man during an argument outside a store.
“Mr. King told police he shot Kenney in self-defense, but was not afforded his right to trial before jury. Instead, a mob broke into the jail and dragged King from his cell, beating and clubbing him,” the task force says.
A mob dragged Williams, 23, from a hospital bed and lynched him in 1931 after he was accused of shooting and killing his white employer, according to the task force.
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Historians believe that part of the same mob that attacked Williams also may have killed an unidentified man whose body was found on railroad tracks on the outskirts of Salisbury, the task force’s website says.