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18 February 2014

Lemuel Penn and the Civil Rights Act (Tombstone Tuesday)

Here's a piece of Georgia history of which I was unaware. (Originally posted at the Southern Graves blog.)

Photo by David Seibert via HMdb.org
"On the night of July 11, 1964 three African-American World War II veterans returning home following training at Ft. Benning, Georgia were noticed in Athens by local members of the Ku Klux Klan. The officers were followed to the nearby Broad River Bridge where their pursuers fired into the vehicle, killing Lt. Col. Lemuel Penn. When a local jury failed to convict the suspects of murder, the federal government successfully prosecuted the men for violations under the new Civil Rights Act of 1964, passed just nine days before Penn’s murder. The case was instrumental in the creation of a Justice Department task force whose work culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1968."

As you likely (and correctly) surmise, the Klan was unprovoked and the jury that failed to convict was all white.

Lemuel Penn rests at Arlington Cemetery.

"NEGRO HERO
Educator Buried in Arlington

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- Lemuel Augustus Penn, Negro educator who was slain by a sniper's shotgun blast as he drove through Georgia, was buried Tuesday with full military honors at Arlington Cemetery, the nation's resting ground for its heroes...

Photo by John Evans via
FindAGrave
Penn, 48, who was in charge of the District of Columbia's five vocational high schools, was shot early Saturday morning near Athens, Ga., while returning to Washington after two weeks of reserve training at Ft. Benning, Ga...

According to the two Reserve officers accompanying Penn, the unexplained and apparently unprovoked shooting was done by a man who drove alongside their car in a rural section of the state, fired twice, then fled. Authorities assume the slaying was racially motivated.

Penn,...is survived by his wife Georgia and three children,...

During the services in the hot, crowded church, the Rev. Stanford J. Harris said Penn was a 'casualty of our battle against bigotry' and his death a reflection of the 'cancerous prejudice eating away at American democracy.'..." [Dallas Morning News (Texas), 15 July 1964, pg. 8 via GenealogyBank.]

02 February 2014

Confederate Monuments of Savannah's Forsyth Park

"The chief pleasure-ground of Savannah is Forsyth Park..."

So sayeth famed Georgia historian Lucian Lamar Knight in his 1914 publication,
Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends.


He also writes of the Confederate monuments located within the park: "On an artificial mound, in the center of the park, stands the Confederate monument, a handsome structure of brown stone, and one of the earliest memorials in Georgia dedicated to the heroes of the Lost Cause..."



"To the north of this handsome pile, is a column, perhaps five feet in height, on which rests a marble bust of Major-General Lafayette McLaws..."


"...while to the south is a similar tribute to Brigadier-General Francis S. Bartow."

01 February 2014

Monument to a Georgia Railway Pioneer, William Washington Gordon

Standing in Savannah's Wright Square (also known as Court House Square) is an impressive monument to a Georgia railway pioneer, William Washington Gordon. Here's what Lucian Lamar Knight has to say about the man and the monument:

"One of the most beautiful monuments in the city of Savannah is the handsome structure of marble, in Court House square, commemorating the useful life of the great pioneer of railway development in Georgia: William Washington Gordon. He died at the early age of forty-six. But he gave the most lasting impetus to the material upbuilding of his native State and accomplished a work of constructive value which was destined to live after him. As the first president of Georgia's earliest railway enterprise, his genius was initiative. He was not only a pathfinder but a builder of splendid highways. Much of the subsequent history of railroads in Georgia has been only the ultimate outgrowth of his pioneer activities; and if Georgia owes much to railroads then her debt of obligation to the man who inaugurated the era of railway enterprise in this State is beyond computation...

The Gordon monument in Savannah is unique. Resting upon a solid pedestal of granite, it consists of four handsome columns of Scotch marble. These enclose at the base an urn of artistic workmanship and support at the top a globe of great weight..."1

© 2010-14 S. Lincecum

William Washington Gordon, according to the monument inscription, was born 17 January 1796. He died 20 March 1842, and was buried in Savannah's Laurel Grove Cemetery.


Footnote:
1. Ancestry.com. Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends [images on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
Original data: Knight, Lucian Lamar. Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends. Atlanta, Ga.: Printed for the author by the Byrd Print. Co., state printers, 1913-1914.