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Salisbury in Wicomico County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Lynching in America / Lynching in Wicomico County

Community Remembrance Project

 
 
Lynching in America marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), January 14, 2022
1. Lynching in America marker
Inscription.  
Lynching in America
After the Civil War, violent resistance to equal rights for African Americans and an ideology of white supremacy led to fatal violence against Black women, men, and children who were frequently falsely accused of violating social norms or crimes. Although Maryland did not join the Confederacy, in 1860 more than 87,000 Black people were enslaved in the state, where slavery remained legal. These enslaved people were not freed by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which only authorized freedom for enslaved people in the Confederacy. White enslavers in states like Maryland believed they should be rewarded for not joining the South's rebellion, and their resistance to emancipation was strong. Racial violence and lynching emerged post-emancipation as forms of terrorism intended to intimidate Black people and enforce racial hierarchy and segregation. From 1865 to 1876, mass lynchings of Black people were common, and the total number of deaths is unknown. From 1865 to 1950, at least 6,500 Black people were lynched for resisting exploitation, violating social customs, or after simply being accused of
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a crime. Losing loved ones to racial violence inflicted lasting pain upon the Black community, causing millions of families to flee their homes and lands as refugees hoping for greater safety in the North or West. Of the 40 racial terror lynchings documented in Maryland, between 1865 and 1950, at least three took place in Wicomico County.

Lynching in Wicomico County
Between 1898 and 1931, at least three Black men were victims of racial terror lynchings near this courthouse. On May 26, 1898, a mob of over 100 white people lynched Garfield King, a Black teenager who lived near present-day Allen, MD. Garfield was being held in the Salisbury Jail after an alleged altercation with a white man outside of Twigg's Store. The mob kidnapped Garfield and hanged him from a nearby maple tree before riddling his body with at least 50 bullets. On December 4, 1931, a white mob lynched Matthew "Buddie" Williams, a 23-year-old Black man recovering from gunshot wounds at Peninsula General Hospital following an altercation with his white employer. Without resistance from hospital staff, the mob kidnapped Mr. William from his bed and dragged him to the courthouse lawn where he was beaten, stabbed, and hanged. The mob set Mr. Williams on fire and dragged his charred remains through Salisbury's Black community as a reminder of the lethal racial order. Days later, on
Lynching in Wicomico County marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), January 14, 2022
2. Lynching in Wicomico County marker
the morning of December 6, the body of an unidentified 33-year-old Black man was found beaten to death near a railroad track in Salisbury. Evidence indicates the man was killed by the same mob that lynched Mr. Williams just hours before. During this era, a strict racial hierarchy prevailed in Wicomico County that enabled white people to lynch and terrorize Black people with impunity. No one was held accountable for the lynchings of these three men.
 
Erected 2021 by Salisbury Lynching Memorial Task Force, Equal Justice Initiative.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RRAfrican AmericansCivil RightsWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Lynching in America series list. A significant historical date for this entry is May 26, 1898.
 
Location. 38° 21.936′ N, 75° 36.024′ W. Marker is in Salisbury, Maryland, in Wicomico County. Marker is at the intersection of North Division Street and East Main Street, on the right when traveling north on North Division Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 100A N Division St, Salisbury MD 21801, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Great Salisbury Fire (a few steps from this marker); Historic Byrd Tavern (within shouting distance of this marker); The General Humphreys Cannon
Lynching in Wicomico County / Lynching in America Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), January 14, 2022
3. Lynching in Wicomico County / Lynching in America Marker
The courthouse is visible in the background.
(within shouting distance of this marker); Wye Oak Seedling (within shouting distance of this marker); F. Leonard Wailes Law Office (within shouting distance of this marker); St. Peter's Church (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Wicomico Presbyterian Church (about 700 feet away); Newtown Historic District (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Salisbury.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 9, 2022. It was originally submitted on January 15, 2022, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 378 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 15, 2022, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Apr. 14, 2024