Resolving the Last U.S. Unresolved Mass Lynching: Georgia’s 1946 Moore’s Ford Bridge Slaughter

Moving Closer to Justice--Tracking the Culprits Underlying an Historically Outrageous Racist Abuse


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Moore’s Ford Bridge Lynching.

On July 25, 1946, Roger Malcom a Black Georgia sharecropper, and his wife Dorothy, who was seven months pregnant, along with his brother-in-law George Dorsey and his wife May were on their way home.

Loy Harrison, a farmer, who employed Malcom, had just bailed Malcom out of the Walton County Jail where he had been detained on allegations that he stabbed a White farmer days earlier.

The group was accosted near the Moore’s Ford Bridge, between Monroe and Watkinsville, Ga., by a White mob who riddled the African-American couple with bullets and cut the unborn baby out of Dorothy Malcom’s womb with a knife.

More than seven decades later, the gruesome killing—the last documented mass lynching in the United States—remains unsolved.

On July 26, 2014, the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials will lead its 10th annual protest of this injustice with a reenactment of the slaying at the bridge after visiting the victims’ gravesites and the old county jail.

“In spite of many obstacles, turn-a rounds, and setbacks, we cannot stop this journey for justice, respect, and the enforcement of the law,” Tyrone Brooks, president of the association and a member of the Georgia State House of Representatives who has led the fight for legal action in this case, said in a statement.

“The killings of our people cannot be overlooked,” Brooks added. “We must take action”

According to Brooks, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been planning to turn the force of his activism to the unsolved murders before his assassination. Likewise, his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, has been an integral ally in shining a spotlight on the injustice and has worked with Brooks to further the cause. The SCLC has even discussed creating a Moore’s Ford Bridge Museum.

“We support Brooks in his efforts to fix this because he is right,” the Rev. Dr. C. T. Vivian, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and vice president of SCLC, said in a statement. “He has not lost the passion for correcting wrongs and making things right throughout the state of Georgia and the world.”

The grisly massacre prompted several investigations over the years.

In the wake of the slayings, then-President Harry Truman sent federal agents to investigate. According to the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, the FBI had a list of about 35 suspects, but residents of the community remained tightlipped with investigators and no indictments were issued.

In 2001, then-Gov. Roy Barnes reopened the case with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; by 2006 the FBI had reentered the case. In 2008, the FBI and the GBI announced they had gathered new evidence in the case at a farm house in rural Walton County, Ga.

In 2013, the NAACP got involved. Benjamin Jealous, then-president of the civil rights group, interviewed Wayne Watkins, a 55-year-old White Monroe native, who said his late uncle and dozens of other local Klu Klux Klan members were involved in the lynching, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Not only did he know their names, he said, but many of them were still alive.

Watkins’ recorded testimony has reinvigorated hope that the 68-year-old cold case would be finally closed.

According to the Journal-Constitution, Ed DuBose, former president of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, told the Walton Board of Commissioners in April that he wants the commission to push for a special prosecutor based on the new information.

“I’m confident that we’re closer to justice than we’ve ever been before,” said DuBose.

For information about GABEO and Moore’s Ford, visit http://www.ga-gabeo.org/moores.html

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