When the word lynching comes to mind, people usually think of Mississippi and an old oak tree on Massa White’s plantation with the massa pointing to the tree with the cane he got from Nathan Bedford Forrest at the Battle Of Naw Kneegro. Nathan Bedford was the first national dragon or whatever of the Klu Klux Klan and commander of the forces that massacred dozens of black soldiers at the Battle of Fort PIllow. Massa: “ Nigra’s this tree is here for one reason.. and if you don’t know.. you bedda ask somebody..” So yeah that’s what lynching represents to most blacks, someone hanging from something. Most of the time it was a tree, but many times if it was personal.. like looking at a white women or backsassing, then they would build a scaffolding and invite friends over and have a picnic. The Moore’s Ford Lynching was actually a shooting that took place in Walton County, Georgia in 1946. It is also known as the “1946 Georgia Lynching”… even though it was a shooting.. because that’s what they did in Georgia back in those days… and anywho when they used the word lynched, it almost always meant some dead black people.
The Moore’s Ford Lynching is also known as the last mass lynching in the United States. Two married couples were killed. Their names were George W. and Mae Murray Dorsey, and Roger and Dorothy Malcom. So in 1946 being in the South was like being in a lion’s mouth with porkchop drawers on. It had been about sixty years since the end of Reconstruction and just 40 years since the beginning of Jim Crow. Reconstruction only lasted about twenty years, but during that twenty years we showed them nothing but pure de azz. No more of that massa stuff.. from then on it was “you know where the sun don’t shine…” Yeah we was living our best life.. until the “Great Betrayal.” Formally known as the Compromise of 1877, it pulled all federal troops out of the southern states… you know… the ones that were protecting us… and left us down there with a population of some really large hairy and very hostile hillbillies and pissed off rebel soldiers. They quickly enacted Jim Crow and the rest is history. Anyway, what happened was the fledgling civil rights movement was just beginning, spurred on by the return of African American soldiers coming back from fighting in WWII. So although the fight for equality was on the front burner, on the other front burner was the fight for the right to vote. This is where our story begins..
Ever hear of white primaries? It used to be a time down south that blacks were not allowed to vote in the primaries. In April of 1946 the Supreme Court ruled that southern law unconstitutional. It meant that a few blacks could participate in helpling put the least racist hillbilly on the ticket in the general election. Now don’t get me wrong, in general black participation in voting down south was not kindly looked on. After the ruling by the Supreme Court, there was a marked uptick in the number of strange fruit sighting. Still blacks put their lives at risk for the right to vote. Strange Fruit was a song by Billie Holiday. It was about lynching and earned her an induction into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1978. Did she get a Grammy in 1939 when she recorded it? Yeah, they gave it to her at a ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria during the Klu Klux Klan and White Nationalist Convention… nope not even.. as a matter of fact none of her recording have ever earned her a grammy, although most of them are in the Grammy Hall Of Fame. By the way… shoutout to my BMore folks, where Billie Holiday was raised. Okay.. let’s get back to it. So yeah blacks could help in putting the least racist person on the ballot. Now in Georgia in 1946 during the gubernatorial race, the least racist person running was named James Carmichael and he was running against the current governor at the time, Eugene Talmadge. Talmadge was red mud, dirty fingernail, bottom feeding racist of the fourth kind. His campaign message was straight up.. “I never saw a “N-word” I liked!” As a matter of fact at his campaign stops he frequently talked about how many black folks he used to flog when he was a young man and how one time he chased a black man with an axe for sitting next to a white woman. It was par for the course to accuse his opponent of being a “n-word” lover… and he said it loudly and frequently! Yep we talking about a sure nuff first degree, hot grits and gravy, Georgia grey back racist with feathered plume and rebel dressing with Alabama hot sauce!. Anywho, as it so happened, at one of his campaign stops in Monroe, Georgia, he met a couple of local farmers named Barnette Hester and J. Loy Harrison. They spoke after the rally and Talmadge found out the Harrison had been a long time supporter of his. Harrison had even named his second son after the governor. This chance meeting would eventually culminate in the deaths of George W. and Mae Murray Dorsey, and Roger and Dorothy Malcom… in what is called America’s last and most sensational mass lynch killing.
About a week after Talmadge gave his rally in Monroe, Carmichael gave a rally. Carmichael’s rally was way, way bigger than Talmadge’s rally. It foretold the fact that the hillbillies who had voted for Talmadge in the last three election were beginning to tire of him. He needed a way to rally the troops and the quickest way to rally the troops was to lynch a nigra for raping a white woman.. well that was one of the quickest ways… however there was another way. In July of that year Harrison had employed the Dorsey’s and Malcolm’s as sharecroppers on his farm. Dorsey had just completed a five year hitch fighting in the Pacific and Malcolm’s wife was seven months pregnant when they entered into the agreement with Harrison. Something allegedly happened between Hester and Malcolm and Malcolm had to hit him with the “Bowie”.. as in knife. (That’s one in the picture above.) Of course Malcolm was immediately hustled off to the county jail and I’m going to say in fair condition because a black man doesn’t stab a white man in Monroe, Georgia in 1946 and we get to read about it in history. Usually they just say he committed suicide by cutting off his private parts and then he climbed into a tree with a rope tied around his neck and jumped… end of story.. So anyway they took him to jail.. Now Talmadge came back to Monroe the day after the stabbing and five days before the primary. So remember when I said the quickest way to rally the troops was to accuse a black man of raping a white woman.. well I also said there was another way.. attacking a white man.. especially with a extra large bright shiny Sears and Roebuck Bowie knife! Okay I don’t know if it was a Bowie knife.. but you get the same thing even if it was a knife made from a cheese twist.. and since I’m telling the story.. it was a shiny new Bowie knife… Anywho, Talmadge took full advantage of the situation and that meant black people were going to die.
Talmadge needed the rural vote. He could still win the primary if he won enough counties… even if his popular vote was not the highest. Reports from the time say that Talmadge met with Hester’s brother in front of the Monroe Courthouse and allegedly told him.. “I wanna see ten dirty toes hanging, without it by sundown!” Okay he didn’t say it like that.. but he allegedly told Hester’s brother, “There will be immunity for anyone taking care of that negro.” History reports him as saying negro… but it’s 1946 in Monroe Georgia… and he was a little racist… in more ways than one…. Well I’ll just let you decide if he used the word “negro..” Anywho, on the day of the lynching Harrison drove Malcolm’s wife and the Dorsey’s to Monroe, where he personally shelled over the bail money to get Malcolm out… around $600. Now mind you this is the man who named his son after Talmadge. On his way back to the farm they were stopped by 15-20 armed third degree racist hillbillies with burning cross insignia at Moore’s Ford Bridge… according to Harrison.. Here is what history says followed after he was forced to stop. “A big man who was dressed mighty proud in a double-breasted brown suit was giving the orders. He pointed to Roger Malcom and said, “We want that nigger.” Then he pointed to George Dorsey, my nigger, and said, “We want you, too, Charlie.” I said, “His name ain’t Charlie; he’s George.” Someone said “Keep your damned big mouth shut. This ain’t your party.” As Harrison watched, one of the black men’s wives identified one of the racist. After being identified the man in the suit said “Get those damn women too!!” The mob took both the women to a big oak tree and tied them beside their husbands. The mob fired three point-blank volleys. At the coroner it was estimated over sixty rounds had been shot at them. They were just 60 miles from Atlanta. When news of the killing spread, protest erupted in New York City and Washington D.C. For the first time President Truman ordered the Justice Department to investigate the crimes under civil right violations. Truman then created the President’s Committee on Civil Rights. After their report, it set in motion the signing of Executive Order 9980 and Executive Order 9981. Executive Order 9980 ordered the desegregation of the federal workforce and Executive Order 9981 ordered the desegregation of the armed services. On July 28, 1946, a funeral for the Dorseys and Dorothy Malcom was held at the Mount Perry Baptist Church. I haven’t found out why Roger Malcolm wasn’t also buried with his wife, it just mentions she was buried along with the Dorsey’s. Although many people including the national news attended the funeral, it was mostly avoided by blacks, largely because they feared what might happen to them if they attended.
So you might have a lot of questions as I did when I researched the story. The following year after their murder, the “New Republic” put out an article entitled “The Murders in Monroe.” They pretty much asked the questions which are on all our minds.
1. Why did the Sheriff set a bail for a black man who stabbed a white man.. a stone’s throw from Atlanta, cradle of the confederacy?
2. Why did Harrison bail Malcolm out when he knew he was going to be convicted and sent to prison?
3. Why didn’t he just replace Malcolm with another sharecropper for a whole lot less than $600?
4. Why did Harrison drive back to his farm along an old unpaved dirt road, when the highway would have been faster and more convenient?
5. How did the mob know the exact time and route Harrison would take back to get home?
6. Why did the wife who had only been in Monroe for a few months, know the names of her assailants, but Harrison who had been there all his life said he did not recognize any of them?
7. Finally, why would the mob let someone who could identify them after they murdered four people.. leave?
I’ll tell you why.. because he was in on it. So the investigation focused on Harrison. You know, the one who named his son after Talmadge.. Georgia Governor Ellis Arnall offered a reward of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of those involved. No one came forward. The FBI interviewed nearly 3000 people in their six-month investigation, and issued 100 subpoenas. Them hillbillies just wouldn’t give it up. The FBI found little physical evidence, and the prosecutor did not have sufficient grounds to indict anyone. The FBI said the black sharecroppers were warned that if they talked to anyone, they had sixty mo bullets for folks with loose lips. Truman wanted heads to roll in Monroe. The FBI grabbed Harrison and hammered away at all the inconsistencies in his story. FBI: Come clean Harrison or we gonna put yo racist azz on a black chain gang and they gonna snatch the very soul out yo body!!” We know that none of the mob wore mask… but you say you didn’t recognize any of them!! Boy don’t make us put you down there with Can’t Get Right and Jangle Leg!! Give it up!!” Still Harrison stuck by his story. Policeman Major William Spence told the press on August 3, 1946: “Harrison is either scared of being killed himself or he’s lying in his teeth or both”. No one was brought to trial for the murders. Thurgood Marshall wrote to the director of the NAACP in which he said, “I have no faith in either Mr. Hoover or his investigators…and there is no use in my saying I do”. Talmadge won Walton County, of which Monroe was part of. He also won the primary because he had won more counties than Carmichael. Carmichael won the popular vote but lost the gubernatorial primary 142 counties to Talmadge’s 242 counties. But like they say… what goes around comes around… Talmadge died of cirrhosis of the liver just days before his inauguration… and rumor has it that the blacks folks go to his grave site late at night…. and pour whiskey on it just in case he ain’t dead.. well that’s what I heard..
A few weeks before Talmadge went to the “Great Underground Oven,” there was a federal grand jury investigation. Hester, the man Malcolm stabbed and Harrison were among the witnesses called. They testified for six hours. More witnesses followed including a man named Ridden Farmer, who lived near the location of the four shooting murders. After three weeks of testimony, including one day where African Americans were testifying, the jury concluded that they were “unable to establish the identity of any persons guilty of violating the civil rights statute of the United States.” Still like I said earlier, down in Monroe, the racist are seven feet tall and walk backwards in case a nigra is looking at a white woman.. a year after the grand jury was unable to determine anyones involvement, two brothers, James and Tom Verner walked into the place of employment of one Lamar Howard. Howard was one of three African Americans who had testified for the grand jury.
“What did you tell ’em down at Athens?” To which he replied that he knew nothing to tell them. They started to attack him. Howard’s employer, Will Perry, allegedly suggested that the two “take him out in the back.”
The Verner brothers continued beating Howard while questioning him. The beating concluded after 10 or 15 minutes with no resistance from Howard, as he feared he would be killed. When the Verners stopped, Howard got to his car and drove home.“
Howard had testified to a grand jury in the Moore’s Ford lynchings, but the proceedings were supposed to be secret. The US Attorney charged the Verner’s for “unlawfully injuring Golden Lamar Howard because of his having testified before a federal grand jury” and “conspiring to injure” him. With the help of a friend who put up his 312 acre farm, the Verner’s were able to make the $10,000 bail assigned to them. Now Ima tell you something I already knew before I read the results… James Verner went on the stand and admitted he beat Howard until his fist were bloodied. His brother testified he saw him do it… The jury was out for two hours and then came back with a finding of not guilty.. In 1992 a witness came forward named Clinton Adams. Adams said he was 10 years old at the time. He said he kept quiet and never talked about the killings. As soon as he was able, he moved from Monroe and had been gone for 45 years because he feared for his life. Although his story was suspect, it brought back a renewed zest to solve the heinous killings. In 2001 Gov. Roy Barnes officially reopened investigation into the case with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. By 2006, the FBI had re-entered the case. They were going over the cold Civil rights cases that had not been solved. You might remember the Medgar Evers case. Evers was killed by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith. Although this was not a civil rights case, it was a unsolved case dating back to the civil rights era. Evers was killed in 1963 and Beckwith was prosecuted for murder and convicted in 1994. Beckwith died in prison at the age of 80 years. Anywho, the Dorsey and Malcolm investigations went on for another 9 years. During the 9 years they had search a farm and gathered materials they thought were pertinent to the investigation and had questioned an 86 year old man about his involvement. That hillbilly didn’t even know his own name. FBI: “We know you were there and participated in the killings! Do yourself a favor and give us the gun!!” Old Man: “You say give you my hun!! She died 15 years ago… ” Oh well… In 2015 they officially close the investigation unable to prosecute any suspect. To this day the killers of George W. and Mae Murray Dorsey, and Roger and Dorothy Malcom have not been brought to justice and never will be. The grand jury testimony and evidence has been sealed permanently. No one will ever know the truth about who knew when and who knew what. In 1999 the Georgia State Historical Society erected a plaque a state historical marker near the site. It is one of only a few markers documenting a lynching in the United States.
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