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Henry Davis was lynched on December 21, 1906, four days before Christmas. Taken from the jail on Calvert Street, dragged through town, terrorizing the black neighborhood through which he was tortured along the way and inviting whites to join in. A noose was placed around his neck, he was lynched and ultimately shot over 100 times. An observer took photos of the gruesome and mutilated body and sold the photos as souvenirs.
Those responsible for his murder were never brought to justice. The institutions, i.e., mayor, city council, the state’s attorney office, the courts, churches, businesses, law enforcement, media and the citizens of Annapolis were all complicit in this dastardly deed.
Racism, brutality, hate crimes, prejudice and state-sanctioned and implemented discrimination have a long, dark and ongoing presence in this country. We seek to remember Henry Davis and the victims of all of the horrors rained down upon people of color by gathering at the Civil Rights Foot Soldier Memorial on 12/21 at 6:15 for 10 minutes of speeches then we will retrace much of the steps taken to bring awareness to the horrors and torture of the crimes committed against Henry Davis, stopping across from Asbury Church and ultimately arriving at Brewer Hill Cemetery (where Henry Davis is buried in an unmarked grave). We will again convene and call upon all attendees to remember, recognize, reconcile the past with the present and commit to ongoing efforts to stand against the racism that continues to plague our county and to commit as a community to working together to eradicate it. We remind each other that no community or its deceased can “rest in peace” as long as there is an absence of justice.
We are publicly recognizing the beginning of a partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative based in Montgomery, Alabama. In April, EJI opened The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, also known as the National Lynching Memorial. It is the nation’s “first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.” Through our partnership with EJI and the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project, we will bring a sculpture from the memorial in Montgomery to Anne Arundel County, thus creating a permanent means by which citizens can bear witness to our own county’s history of racial terror and lynching. Further, we will work to educate the community and our children about this dark segment of the history of our city and county. It is only through learning about this history that our children can understand how it manifests today and work toward building a future that is free of racism, racial violence, and inequality. This partnership with EJI has been formally endorsed by a number of local organizations, including the Caucus of African American Leaders, WISE, Anne Arundel County Indivisible, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Annapolis and Anne Arundel County (SURJ 3A), Maryland Lynching Memorial Project, Action Annapolis, March On Maryland and We Persist-Women of Greater Anne Arundel.