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New exhibit in Kansas City to include a piece of Springfield history

Published: Sep. 19, 2020 at 10:49 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield-Greene County Remembrance Coalition joined the Equal Justice Initiative in their campaign to recognize the victims of lynching and racial terror in our country.

Saturday a small group of local leaders, historians and people in the community gathered at the square in downtown Springfield to hold a soil collection ceremony It was poured it into three separate jars labeled with the names of the men lynched at this location in 1906.

Christine Peoples, Timmons Hall Coordinator for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board said, “This is in honor of those who have lost their lives. Millions more have done so because of racial violence. Horrace Duncan, Fred Coker and Will Allen were three of at least 60 African-American victims of racial terror lynching between 1877 and 1950.”

“Let me just say that the soil that we take from this place today cries out to memorialize the lives taken by a shameful mob, a mob that betrayed justice,” said Greene County Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon.

Dr. Carmaletta Williams, executive with the Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City said, “They were innocent people but they were victimized because of the color of their skin.”

“For us to be able to heal we need to tell of that injustice,” said Peoples.

Horace Duncan and Fred Coker were falsely accused of assaulting a white woman. By early Easter Sunday, April 15, 1906 they were taken to the city jail for their protection. However, a lynch mob abducted and hanged the two from the Gottfried Tower at the square.

The mob went back to the jail, took William Allen and hanged him too in front of a crowd of thousands.

Their bodies reduced to a pile of ashes.

“Two days after the lynching of these three men the woman who reported being assaulted issued a statement that she was positive that Mr. Coker and Mr. Duncan were not her assailants,” said Peoples.

Many black residents fled the city shortly after.

“We add our voices to the call for healing, reconciliation and renewal,” said Dixon.

Williams said, The only way heal is to confront the injustice and acknowledged it happened. Honor those people we’re victimized and move on."

“Today we can be on the right side of history.” said Peoples.

Eighteen people were indicted for the killings, only one went trial but was not convicted.

The jars of soil will be part of an exhibit at the Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City along with 57 other jars representing the others how were killed because of racial violence in Missouri between 1877 and 1950.

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