Columbia in Maury County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
1946 Columbia Race Riot / A.J. Morton Funeral Home
1946 Columbia Race Riot. In February 1946 a struggle between an African American World War II veteran, James Stephenson, and a white shopkeeper over a radio repair order sparked a riot, fueled by law enforcement officers who raided the African American business district without search warrants and confiscated weapons. Police arrested more than 100 African American men, charging 25 with attempted murder. With legal defense team Z. Alexander Looby, Thurgood Marshall, Leon Ranson, and Maurice Weaver, an all-white jury acquitted 23 of the 25 men. Because of this incident and others in the South, President Harry Truman established the President's Committee on Civil rights.
A.J. Morton Funeral Home. In 1891 former slave J.M. Morton established the first undertaking business to serve African Americans in Maury County. Known later as A.J. Morton & Sons Funeral Home, descendants of Morton owned and operated the business for almost 100 years. Located in the center of the African American business district, this funeral home was vandalized during the 1946 Columbia Race Riot. Owner James E. Morton was charged as an accessory
Erected by Tennessee Historical Commission. (Marker Number 3D 83.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Civil Rights. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #33 Harry S. Truman, and the Tennessee Historical Commission series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1946.
Location. 35° 36.8′ N, 87° 1.967′ W. Marker is in Columbia, Tennessee, in Maury County. Marker is on East 8th Street, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Columbia TN 38401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Mount Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Andrew Johnson (about 600 feet away); The Forrest-Gould Affair (about 600 feet away); James K. Polk (about 700 feet away); Major General William E. Potts Veterans Memorial Plaza (about 700 feet away); Nathan Vaught (about 700 feet away); Nelson House Hotel (approx. 0.2 miles away); Freedmen's Savings Bank and Trust Company (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Columbia.
Also see . . . Columbia Race Riots. (Submitted on August 21, 2016, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 27, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 21, 2016, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 513 times since then and 40 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on August 21, 2016, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.