Brownsville in Haywood County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
1908 - 1940
Elbert Williams, an African American Haywood County native, was one of the early members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) killed in the United States for his civil rights work. He and his wife Annie became charter members of the NAACP Brownsville Branch in 1939. On May 6, 1940, five African Americans tried to register to vote. A white terror campaign followed and destroyed the NAACP Branch. More than 20 African American families fled the area. Williams disappeared on the night of June 20, 1940, after the police took him from his home and questioned him about planning an NAACP meeting.
After three days, Williams' mutilated body was found in the Hatchie River. His death was ruled a homicide by unknown parties, and he was buried in the Taylor Cemetery. Annie Williams quickly moved to New York. After interviewing witnesses in Brownsville, Thurgood Marshall, NAACP Special Counsel, criticized the U.S. Department of Justice's investigation and failure to prosecute. The NAACP Brownsville Branch re-organized in 1961.
Erected 2015 by Tennessee Historical
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Civil Rights • Patriots & Patriotism. In addition, it is included in the Tennessee Historical Commission series list.
Location. 35° 35.631′ N, 89° 15.669′ W. Marker is in Brownsville, Tennessee, in Haywood County. Marker is at the intersection of East Main Street (State Highway 1) and North Jackson Avenue, on the right when traveling west on East Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 31 E Main St, Brownsville TN 38012, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Brownsville (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Army National Guard (about 500 feet away); Gen. Jacob Jennings Brown (about 500 feet away); Wesleyan Female College (approx. 0.2 miles away); Dunbar (approx. 0.3 miles away); Tabernacle (approx. 4 miles away); Bradford's Landing (approx. 7 miles away); Stanton Masonic Lodge And School (approx. 12 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Brownsville.
Regarding Elbert Williams. Elbert Williams is the first known member of the NAACP to lose his life doing civil rights work.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 22, 2020. It was originally submitted on April 25, 2020, by John Ashworth of Brownsville, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 225 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 25, 2020, by John Ashworth of Brownsville, Tennessee. 3. submitted on May 2, 2020, by John Ashworth of Brownsville, Tennessee. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.