‘Make a statement.’ City of Salisbury building lynching statue so people don’t forget its history

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SALISBURY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — Salisbury is a city that’s proud of its history with historical markers all over town. But a new one will be the first of its kind in North Carolina.

On the streets, sidewalks, and buildings, there are pieces of Salisbury’s history all over, but some of their history hasn’t been documented, until now.

“What we really want to do is just make a statement. It did happen, we’re going, to tell the truth about it, and in that truth, we’ll find a way forward,” said Reverend Olen Bruner.


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The truth that Reverend Bruner is talking about goes back to August 1906, when three black men were lynched by a mob of thousands.

“No more looking the other way,” said Dr. Susan Lee.

Lee and Bruner have been working with the community of Salisbury to make sure their history is told. Now, a new historical marker will document the lynching that took place 115 years ago. The marker is the first Equal Justice Initiative marker in the state of North Carolina.

Site of the new historical marker.

“If racism could have been solved by thinking it through, I think we would have solved it a long time ago. This is an issue of the heart,” said Lee.

The plaque will sit next to another important piece of Salisbury’s history, the Oak Grove Freeman’s Cemetery. It’s a cemetery where countless slaves are buried.

And as Reverend Bruner was quick to point out…

“Right across the street,” said Bruner.

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The jail across the street shows there’s more work that needs to be done.

“All of these things are about making an effort, it does not change overnight. It cannot change overnight,” said Bruner.

On Friday, August 6, at 7 p.m., the marker will be dedicated at 306 N. Church Street. On Saturday, August 7, more events will take place starting at 10 a.m. at 131 W Council Street.

See the Community Remembrance Project slideshow here.

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