George Armwood died October 18, 1933. He was killed by a lynch mob.
The mob of 1,000 knocked down the jailhouse doors with battering rams before seizing Armwood. He was dragged from the jail by a noose around his neck, stabbed beaten and then hanged until dead. His body was returned to the courthouse, where it was hanged from a telephone pole and burned. While the savagery of the attack is familiar to students of racial terrorism in the Deep South, the setting of Armwood’s murder may not be.
Map of America depicting where lynchings took place, including in Maryland. (Screenshot eji.org)
The lynching of George Armwood took place in Princess Anne, Somerset County, Maryland at the southern extreme of Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Armwood’s demise is one of 300 stories to come from a new report by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) that expands on its history of lynchings across the United States.
The first report “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror” published in 2015, as part of an ongoing investigation, has tallied over 4,000 such killings in 12 Deep South states from 1877 to 1950; but as the investigation follows fleeing Blacks, in addition to economic predation, physical violence met them in the West, Midwest and North.
EJI is reporting 28 lynchings in Maryland alone.
“We always knew that there were terrible and tragic violent incidents that occurred even in these places of refuge,” said Sia Sanneh, senior attorney at EJI, told the AFRO. “Where African Americans fled seeking some sort of respite from what has occurred in the South. Maryland, of course, was one of those states that people fled from places like Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina for.”
Part of the investigation involved travelling to the eight states, including Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois, added to the report. EJI visited over 150 sites in total, Sanneh said.
“One of the things that struck us is how little the contemporary landscape reflects this history,” said Sanneh. “You go to almost all of these sites and there’s no mention-you would never know that a lynching occurred here. We think that hidden history is important to uncover.”
As part of creating a new landscape, EJI plans to erect a “Memorial to Peace and Justice” in Montgomery, Alabama in the spring of 2018, the organization said in a statement.
“If you are a person of color who walks to school every day by seven statues of great Confederate heroes with no information about history of your own ancestors, that’s a message about your value in society today,” said Sanneh.
While a bust of Roger B. Taney, the slaveholding Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Maryland native that wrote the Dredd Scott v. Sandford majority opinion, was removed from Frederick City Hall, statues of Taney remain in Mount Vernon and Annapolis.