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We must study lynchings so history doesn't repeat itself

At least 44 men in Maryland and thousands nationwide lost their lives to lynchings. Now activists are shining a light on the gruesome practice hoping to start an honest and healing conversation. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun video)

Letter writer Charlotte Eliopoulos reacted to a proposal in the General Assembly to create the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission (“Why we need to study lynching,” Feb. 20) and questioned why we have to revisit “past prejudicial acts that are no longer accepted risks.”

Yet two days later NBC reported:

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“2018 saw the fourth straight year of growth in the number of hate groups in the U.S., according to a new report Wednesday from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks white supremacists and other extremist groups. The 30 percent increase coincides with Donald Trump's campaign and presidency. It comes on the heels of three consecutive years of decline near the end of former President Obama's time in office.”

Several of these new extremist groups are in Maryland.

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The same day the New York Times reported:

“The editor and publisher of a small Alabama newspaper called for the Ku Klux Klan ‘to night ride again’ against tax-raising politicians, prompting a fierce backlash and calls for his resignation. The editor, Goodloe Sutton, published the editorial in the Thursday edition of The Democrat-Reporter, a weekly newspaper in Linden, Ala., that had about 3,000 subscribers in 2015. Sutton went on, ‘We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them.’”

Apparently, we do have to revisit, or we will repeat the past.

Susan Lisson, retired director of the University of Mississippi’s William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, and now with Sustainable Equity, recently said:

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“Memorials have the power to invite meaningful race conversations, but the key is addressing stubborn attitudes, stereotypes and assumptions that have been hardened and passed down over generations. The difficulty is getting beyond feelings of recrimination and guilt. When it works, we are able to get past the perspective of ‘I didn’t do it, I don’t know anybody that did it,’ and find the ways to honor the victims.”

David Cramer, Baltimore

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