MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Until April 29, the Montgomery County Lynching Memorial Project and The Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center are displaying an exhibit called “It Happened in Rockville, Remembering Two Lynchings” to educate the community about these terror acts that took place and the reconciliation process grassroots coalitions are working on.
The exhibit is part of a larger initiative to educate and engage our community in acknowledging the history and legacy of lynching and racial terrorism in the county.
In Montgomery County, there were 3 total known lynchings. 2 happened in Rockville — Sidney Randolph and John Diggs-Dorsey were both taken from the county jail, which is now the county office building. George Peck, who was lynched in Poolesville, is the 3rd documented victim.
“The historical lynchings, one of the things that makes them so egregious is that often they were sanctioned by the local law enforcement,” said Lesley Younge, Member of the MOCO LMP Steering Committee. “They were in some ways supported, two of these men were taken from the county jail”
Younge also reminds people that although Montgomery County is known as one of the most diverse places in the country, Maryland — like many parts of the south — has a history of racialized violence. Remembering and learning about these acts of terror allows us to not repeat the same mistakes.
“At the same time in order to create that sense of community, we have to know where we come from, and understand that within the history of Montgomery County, it hasn’t necessarily always been like this and that there are more difficult harder, more violent parts of our past,” said Younge.
In the whole state of Maryland, there were 38 documented lynchings. The Maryland Lynching Memorial Project was formed in 2018 to research and document the racial terror lynchings.
Will Schwarz, their president and founder, said it’s important that the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act was signed. Because of that, there is legislation that connects historical hate crimes like lynchings to hate crimes but says it would be tragic if people look at this bill being signed and think the issue is over.
“I don’t see it as much as a cause of celebration as I have of relief, that this embarrassment that has gone on for so long has ended,” said Schwarz. “It’s a stain on our history.”
Schwarz also says understanding difficult history isn’t always easy but to properly honor and dignity the lives lost, it’s necessary for healing the damage of the past.
“It’s not just that we’re against white supremacy or bigotry, we have to be for something and I think it’s important to have that vision of how we want to live together,” he said.
For more information about MOCO LMP, click here.