On Sept. 17, 1935 the last publicly recorded lynching in Oxford took place. After a trial for killing a white man in self defense, Elwood Higginbotham was taken from his jail cell either forcibly or through persuasion of the guards before being hung and shot before a mob of 150 or more people.
At the time it happened, it received a wide variety of coverage although most of it proved to be ineffective in painting a accurate picture of what actually happened. The story barely registered to get any mention from the family its self as the remaining Higginbothams fled Oxford before eventually settling in Memphis.
The story would remain blurred and under wraps until Kyleen Burke from Northeastern University’s Law School was assigned with gathering the story for a memorial in honor lynching victims in Birmingham.
“What makes this important to day is showing our young people what our elderly people went through to have the rights that they have now,” Said Cynthia Parham Commissioner of the Historical Properties Division of the city of Oxford. “Its a part of our legacy. We don’t want our past to be our present.”
The Equal Justice Initiative is collaborating with the Oxford Board of Alderman to erect a plaque in honor of Higginbotham near the alleged lynching site.
The Plaque will detail the events and the sad reality of the Jim Crow Era south.
The Lynching Memorialization in Lafayette county will host a public meeting on Aug. 28 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Tallahatchie Oxford Missionary Baptist Association building in Oxford
The EJI is also providing Lafayette County students with the opportunity to earn scholarship money through an essay contest. Some high schools such as Lafayette High School have yet to take advantage of the scholarship.
“Towards the end of last year the story caught some traction and inspired some kids but so far this year we haven’t even had the chance to get the kids into the full swing of writing to write,” said 9th grade English teacher Maria Young.
At the time of this article, some staffers were unaware that the scholarship was available.
“I hadn’t heard about the scholarship but i’m sure this is something that would excite my students,” said 12th grade English teacher Sara Irby. “I find it easier to talk about social injustices when we have actual examples. Last week we read some Tom Sawyer and it help orchestrate a discussion among students.”