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Memorial to Lynched Men Unveiled in Mt. Vernon

The project was spearheaded by local teen

A memorial has been dedicated in Mt. Vernon, remembering seven black men who were lynched 144 years ago. WNIN’s John Gibson has the story:

A bench and historical marker were dedicated on the Posey County Courthouse lawn Sunday afternoon, remembering the deaths of Daniel Harrison Jr., John Harrison, Daniel Harrison Sr., Jim Good, William Chambers, Edward Warner, and Jeff Collins.

Four of the men were hanged on the courthouse lawn and no one was ever charged in the deaths.

Before Sunday’s dedication, an overflow crowd gathered in the nearby Hovey House.

They heard Mt. Vernon Mayor Bill Curtis recall the 1878 tragedy:

"They are not events that we like to recognize as individuals or a community. But they are events that we have to recognize and to acknowledge."

Posey County Commissioner Bill Collins also weighed in:

"My personal hope is that this monument, in some small way, will show that we must not erase the things from the past that we don't like and learn from them and move forward in a better way."

The project was spearheaded by Mt. Vernon High School Senior Sophie Kloppenburg:

"A mob watching African-Americans hang has been replaced by a crowd watching us speak and lead. Ultimately, I'm proud of Posey County, Indiana and the beautiful people here for having the difficult conversations, owning up to this horrible history, and giving a tangible voice to its minorities."

USI Professor of American History Kristalyn Shefveland called for a better job of teaching the nation’s history:

"We need to spend more time understanding that we are still living in reconstruction."

More: Sophie Kloppenburg told WNIN her project received some pushback from county officials about the graphic details of the men’s deaths that she wanted on the marker:

"The commissioners expressed concerns about not wanting to have all of that so openly displayed, but I think we still really get the point across with the wording that we get. They were killed, they were lynched."

Sunday's dedication drew about 200 people to Mt. Vernon, including national news media.