The Alamance County Community Remembrance Coalition was formed in November 2019 as a result of a few coalition members journeying to the Equal Justice Initiative’s (EJI) Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. These members returned with a renewed passion to bring EJI projects to their community to recognize the tragic history of local racial terror lynchings. Coalition members contacted other community leaders who could bring valuable knowledge of history, families, events, and community work.
Coalition members who visited the Equal Justice Initiative’s Museum and Memorial experienced such a deep emotional connection to the soil sample of John Jeffress, a man lynched in 1920 in our community, they knew it was something the entire Alamance County community should experience as a collective.
Why Do We Do This?
THE FULL STORY
Our nation has a history of hiding the truth. Failure to recognize and acknowledge the history of racial terror and oppression results in the ongoing inability to connect our history to our present. Black and Brown populations continue to face injustices daily in Alamance County.
During Reconstruction, Alamance County was a center of anti-Black violence in the state of North Carolina, and it remains a challenging place for Black Americans to live with dignity. There is still a vigorous white supremacist presence; the sheriff enthusiastically fills the jails with people of color; and a White county commission repeatedly refuses adequate funding for basic programming. Black people’s lives are in danger every day.
White Americans in particular do not recognize the country's long history of anti-Black violence and therefore do not understand the white supremacist dimensions of just about every sacred American institution (from the justice system, to higher education, to neighborhoods and cities, etc.). Some White Alamance County residents are actively engaged in education about our shared history to help us understand the systemic dimensions of racism and see through white normativity. We encourage residents to learn more about racial equity education in Alamance county, visit the Alamance Racial Equity Alliance website to find ways to get involved.
One sign and symbol of the ways in which white supremacy is embedded into the fabric of the county, a monument to a Confederate soldier stands in front of the courthouse in Graham, the county seat of Alamance County. There is no monument or marker to commemorate the murder of Wyatt Outlaw, Reconstruction-era leader, who was lynched just yards away from the courthouse. Undertaking this work with EJI will allow us to bring the unseen into the open--to remember together the life and death of Wyatt Outlaw, John Jeffress, William Puryear, and others--and to begin the process of healing.