Salisbury Mayoral Candidate Kenny Hardin Asks: “Why is Salisbury Participating in Another Lynching?”

Posted on July 19, 2017

Kenny Hardin, Salisbury Mayoral Candidate 2017

♦ I received several phone calls from concerned citizens last weekend. They shared their displeasure with a proposed commemoration ceremony scheduled for next month here in Salisbury. When I heard the details of what the ceremony was about, I could hardly contain my shock and disgust that anyone would think this was a good idea. I shared the message I received on Facebook and was surprised at how unaware many others were that this was taking place. I was not, however, surprised at the angry reactions of similar disgust from people both Black and White.

In 1906, three Black sharecroppers were lynched in front of thousands of citizens after being falsely accused of the axe murder of three members of a White family. Descendants of the three murdered sharecroppers still live in Salisbury and the tree where these lynching murders took place still stands off of Long Street. Two bestselling books were written entitled, A Game Called Salisbury: The Spinning of a Southern Tragedy and the Myths of Race and Troubled Ground: A Tale of Murder, Lynching and Reckoning in the New South.

I was told a group led by retired businessman Carl Repsher and City Council candidate Pat Jones Ricks want to have a memorial remembrance event at the tree and place a marker there. Why? Who wants to recall that painful episode? What could any positive benefit result from this? I hope the misinformed people who are discussing this ridiculous remembrance will forgo this and leave it alone. The intentions may be genuine, but this will do nothing to bring racial healing or reconciliation. I hope someone with enough sense, awareness or backbone will develop the courage to stand up to those planning this and convince them to leave it alone.

After the continuous firestorm of comments on Facebook from those equally disgusted piled up, a woman who is on the planning committee in-boxed me. She was clearly annoyed that I didn’t support it and said I shouldn’t have posted it on Facebook. I shared my disgust with this event candidly and honestly with her and asked why this was being done in such a secretive manner? I also asked why this wasn’t taken to the greater community and polled to see if this is even something they or the family wanted. It was explained to me that this would be considered a day of atonement and reconciliation. It was added that it could be educational for young people who may be unaware of this heinous act. I reject all of that nonsense.

Why go back 111 years to atone for something when there is plenty of current indignities and atrocities to acknowledge? How can this help lessen racial tension or bridge any divisions that currently exist in our City? Does Black history in Salisbury not have any positive merits that young kids can be made aware of and educated on? If you’re familiar with the Eight Principle Steps in the Atonement Process, atonement and reconciliation come way down on the list-1. Point out the wrong. 2. Acknowledge the wrong. 3. Confess the Fault. 4. Repent. 5. Atone. 6. Forgive. 7. Reconcile and Restore. 8. Perfect Union with God.

It’s interesting how some folk will go back over 100 years to commemorate an atrocity, but will not speak up on current atrocities impacting the poor and people of color. They will say now that Black Lives Mattered in 1906, but refuse to acknowledge them in 2017. This is nothing but feel good nonsense that will only create more hard feelings rather than alleviate them. Instead of wasting money and resources on something that will not sustain, why not send kids to college or trade school, support the Boys & Girls Club proposal or do something else measurable. Do this instead of marching, singing and praying over a tree and then turning a blind eye to the indignities still occurring in this City every day? Why not acknowledge, atone, and help create solutions for the epidemic of unarmed Black men being killed by bad cops, discriminatory practices in housing, employment and loans, underdeveloped neighborhoods, health disparities, and so many more.

I see no benefit in reaching back 111 years under the guise of Unity and Brotherhood when you won’t acknowledge or address hate and division that exists now. If you want to teach young people about man’s inhumanity against man, don’t pick and choose the lessons. This is nothing but a feel good symbolic gesture that will yield nothing beyond the day it happens. The people who are spearheading this will offer kind words, pray and make amends for something they were not alive when it occurred, then leave and do nothing further. They will offer this as an example of their commitment to racial healing and colorblindness and then go back to their segregated lives and ignore the plight of the poor and people of color.

It’s disappointing that some Black people are supporting this, but will not demand any equity and justice on other things. For three weeks the Mayor and City Manager labeled the Black community as prone to violence that could’ve resulted in retaliation and physical harm to an entire community. No apologies, overtures of acts of atonement have been offered since then. Deep seated emotions and racial division are still prevalent two months later. How many of these same people have spoken up or out against this cultural disparagement or asked for atonement?

We can’t find the time to go back two months, but now we’re supposed to join in and support this from over a century ago? I’m not that easily manipulated. We are the only Culture I know who allows others to exploit our pain and manipulate us into joining in to celebrate it. I don’t see the Native Americans or the Jewish community commemorating genocidal atrocities committed against them? The late South African civil rights activist Steve Biko, who was murdered for his stance on fighting for justice and equality said, “The greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the minds of the oppressed.” Some of our minds are so appropriated, we will staunchly defend their hate against us and support misguided proposals such as this harder than they do.

I had a great hour long conversation with a prominent 75 year old well respected Black resident a couple of days ago about his views on living in Salisbury for over 50 years. People that blindly support ridiculous things like this should talk to people like him who have a deeper connection to these indignities and listen to their pain.

I have no belief or expectation that this ridiculous divisive event will be called off. I just have too much self-respect and a greater understanding of the pain associated with it to take part in it.

Posted in: Articles