Joplin residents scoop soil from the ground where Thomas Gilyard, a 20-year-old black man was hung to his death 115 years ago. He was accused of killing a cop, and drug out of jail by several hundred men. After his lynching, the mob raided Joplin's black district, burning homes, firing guns and threatening the residents.
"This soil, it tell the story not only of the death and the lynching of Mr. Gilyard, but this community's commitment to telling the truth about that and trying to move forward and build towards healing" says Kiara Boone.
Kiara Boone from the Equal Justice Initiative is going to take the soil and bring it to Alabama to be displayed in a new museum featuring containers of soil from different lynching sites around the country. The Legacy Museum will open April 26th in Montgomery, Alabama,
Speakers shared prayers, uplifting words and Thomas Gilyard's story, recognizing how far our society has come as far as racial equality and how far we have to go.
"We may not have the lynchings going on, but there are different ways that racial inequality is rearing it's ugly head. And even though this is something that happened over a hundred years ago, there are still divisions going on today. And we are hoping by this, being aware of it and acknowledging it, we are hoping that it leads all of us working back together" says Melodee Colbert-Kean from the Joplin City Council.
Kiara says there are still racial injustices like disparities in the criminal justice system, the economy, and health care.
"All of those things that impact people in modern society are connected to this history of racial and economic injustice that manifests itself through the history of domestic slave trade, that manifests itself through racial terror lynchings that manifests itself through laws, that not only impacted the segregated south but the entire nation"
With every scoop of soil and every song sung at this memorial ceremony, this crowd honors Thomas Gilyard's memory and takes a look at a dark part of Joplin's history, so it never repeats itself.
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