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6/5/2018 5:59:00 PM
Family of 1930 Marion lynching victims oppose memorial

Sara Barker, Chronicle-Tribune

The idea of a lynching memorial for Marion came to the Grant County Commissioners' meeting again, this time with opposition.

During public comment in the commissioners' Monday meeting, multiple descendants of the families of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, the two men killed in the 1930 Marion lynching, voiced opposition to the proposed memorial.

Pansy Bailey, a first cousin of Shipp, said she just hopes the family could have closure.

“The only people it should really matter to is the family,” Bailey said. “I just don’t feel that [the memorial] is necessary.”

This comes after Huntington University professor Jack Heller approached the commissioners two weeks ago asking for acknowledgment that a group of people in Marion want the memorial to be constructed.

At the last meeting, Heller said he was speaking on behalf of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, which recently opened a lynching museum.

In tandem with the museum, the Initiative is requesting every lynching site in America erect a memorial stone, which will be duplicated at the museum.

“This gentleman from Huntington – I just don’t agree with him,” Bailey said.

The members and representatives of the Shipp family, of which four were present at the meeting, said they were never contacted by the Equal Justice Initiative for consent.

“I think just about all the family members that I know of [who] are against it,” said Seclinda Moore, whose mother was a Shipp.

Another man, who said he was a direct descendant of Abram Smith, said a memorial would invite vandalism.

Descendants of Shipp and Smith said a reconciliation day, where their family and clergy members met in Marion in 2003 to officially put the past behind them, was enough.

The commissioners also addressed the issue of Heller's repeated unanswered emails. Heller said in a petition he sent six emails in regards to the possible memorial.

When Heller approached them two weeks ago, the commissioners said the miscommunication was caused by a transition to the new Grant County website. For a period of time, the commissioners said they could only receive internal emails, not ones from outside their server.

Commissioners told the family members and representatives on Monday that the miscommunication was because Heller's email address was not valid.

Commissioner Ron Mowery added that Heller should have called instead of only emailing.

“If this guy really wanted to talk to me, call the commissioner's office,” Mowery said. “Get a cell phone number.”

The commissioners said they will continue to communicate with the family about the memorial and exchanged contact information after the meeting.

Copyright #YYYY# Chronicle-Tribune

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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