A marker commemorating the 1935 lynching of a black man in Lafayette County is the first of its kind. MPB’s Alexandra Watts reports on how the family and the community came together to make it happen.
Elwood Higginbotham’s family and community members sing and lay red roses at the site of his 1935 lynching in Oxford, the last documented lynching in Lafayette County.
He is the first to be commemorated with a marker.
His son, E.W. Higginbottom, 87, said his siblings and mother left town after his father was killed, but is grateful his father is not forgotten.
“I also went to Oxford where they said they buried him, but they had an unmarked grave and also the place they hung them at," he said. "I met so many people who have been so nice, and it made me feel good to know that he was thought about.”
Higginbotham was in custody after being accused of murdering white farmer Glen Roberts. He was taken from his cell and lynched by an angry mob. Researchers since concluded he acted in self defense after Roberts broke into his home.
Decades later, Northeastern University’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project examined the case.
April Grayson, who works with The Winter Institute, said support from the project and other groups was essential for Higginbotham’s marker.
“It’s been a real collaborative effort across the community within government, within the university and also the external organizations that have lended support such as Equal Justice Initiative that made this marker possible," she said.
Higginbotham‘s son never got to know his father, but still remembers his legacy.
“I don’t know anything about how my daddy looked, but I all know is that he was trying to protect us.”
Grayson said the community hopes to commemorate the county’s other six documented lynchings.