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Mt. Willing in Lowndes County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
 

Enslavement & Racial Terror / Lynching Targeting Black Sharecroppers

Community Remembrance Project

 
 
Enslavement & Racial Terror Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton
1. Enslavement & Racial Terror Marker
Inscription.  
Enslavement & Racial Terror
The enslavement of black people in the United States was a brutal, dehumanizing system that lasted more than 200 years. Between 1819 and 1860, Alabama's enslaved population grew from 40,000 to 435,000. According to the U.S. Census, 2 out of 3 of Lowndes County's more than 27,000 residents were enslaved black people in 1860. The county had the fifth largest enslaved population in Alabama, and the 12th largest nationwide.

Mt. Willing Church was built at this site in 1832, constructed by enslaved people who were forced to sit in segregated sections when they attended service. “Slavery as it exists among us," read an Oct. 1860 letter in the Hayneville Chronicle,"is sanctioned by the Constitution, by the Bible, and it ought to be extended."

White landowners committed to a myth of racial inferiority used the domestic slave trade to build an agricultural economy dependent on the exploited labor of black people. After the South lost the Civil War in 1865, many white people remained committed to white supremacy and determined to use violence to continue oppressing

Lynching Targeting Black Sharecroppers marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, August 11, 2020
2. Lynching Targeting Black Sharecroppers marker
and exploiting black people. Between 1877 and 1950, white mobs lynched thousands of African Americans to intimidate black communities and enforce racial hierarchy. Of the more than 350 racial terror lynching victims documented in Alabama, at least 16 were killed in Lowndes County.

Lynching Targeting Black Sharecroppers
In Summer 1935, hundreds of black sharecroppers in Lowndes County, Alabama staged a strike to protest poor pay and mistreatment. In response, white mobs and local law enforcement arrested and attacked black leaders in a terror campaign, lynching at least three black men within two weeks.

On August 22, 1935, a white mob shot prominent black leader Jim Press Meriweather and left him to die in the woods. The mob then demanded information from his wife, Annie Mae. When she refused, the mob stripped her, hanged her from a wooden beam and beat her unconscious with a knotted rope. Mrs. Meriweather survived.

Days later, on August 28th, police arrested G. Smith Watkins, a black preacher who helped lead the strike. Rev. Watkins never reached the jail; he was found shot to death, lynched in a swamp near the county line weeks later.

On September 2nd, a white mob organized by the Lowndes County Sheriff ambushed black leader Ed Bracy at his Hope Hull home, fatally shooting him nineteen times in the neck and head.

Jim

Former Snow Hill Christian Church Annex image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, August 11, 2020
3. Former Snow Hill Christian Church Annex
Built in 1832, and during that time period African American worshipers had to sit up in the balcony in what they called the slave gallery.
Press Meriweather, G. Smith Watkins, and Ed Bracy were lynched to preserve white supremacy and warn the entire black community not to dare demand equality. State and federal authorities did little to investigate the racialized anti-union attacks in Lowndes County, even after Mrs. Meriweather bravely testified before federal authorities in Washington, D.C.
 
Erected 2019 by Equal Justice Initiative Community Remembrance Project.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil Rights. In addition, it is included in the Lynching in America series list.
 
Location. 32° 4.257′ N, 86° 41.909′ W. Marker is in Mt. Willing, Alabama, in Lowndes County. Marker is at the intersection of Snow Hill Drive and Alabama Route 21, on the right when traveling west on Snow Hill Drive. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Deposit AL 36032, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Varner's Cash Store (approx. 10.3 miles away); In Memory of Jonathan Myrick Daniels (approx. 10.4 miles away); The Soldier Dead of Lowndes (approx. 10.4 miles away); Hayneville (approx. 10.4 miles away); Town of Hayneville
The view south on AL-21. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, August 11, 2020
4. The view south on AL-21.
(approx. 10.4 miles away); Lynching in America / The Courthouse Lynching of Theo Calloway (approx. 10.4 miles away); The Federal Road and The Palings / Fort Dale 1818 (approx. 12.4 miles away); Bartram's Trail (approx. 12˝ miles away).
 
Also see . . .  Slavery - Wikipedia article. (Submitted on September 2, 2020, by Byron Hooks of Sandy Springs, Georgia.)
 
Former church annex recognized by the Lowndes County Historical Society. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, August 11, 2020
5. Former church annex recognized by the Lowndes County Historical Society.
People lynched in Lowndes County with the 3 names near bottom. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, May 31, 2018
6. People lynched in Lowndes County with the 3 names near bottom.
Part of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery, Alabama, the memorial is 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. One of the over 800 corten steel monuments, one for each county in the United States where a racial terror lynching took place.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 24, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 11, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 77 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on August 11, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.   6. submitted on February 24, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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Feb. 25, 2021