CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.(WTVC/WKRN) — Confederate monuments have ignited a firestorm of protests. Now there’s a twist in the battle over statues in Tennessee and across the South.
A group in Chattanooga wants to honor a black man who was lynched.
His name was Ed Johnson. He was lynched from the Walnut Street bridge on March 19, 1906.
Johnson was convicted of raping a woman, though eyewitnesses said he wasn’t there at the time.
His family appealed and the U.S. Supreme court issued a stay of execution. Despite the stay, a mob stormed the jail and lynched Johnson.
According to the Ed Johnson Project, President Teddy Roosevelt was outraged. The Supreme Court held it’s one and only criminal trial and found a handful of people, including the sheriff, guilty of contempt of court.
Project leaders want a permanent monument on the south end of the Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga.
Donivan Brown told WTVC he thinks an important piece of Chattanooga’s history is missing.
“We live in a society which memorializes many individuals, some friends some foe, for me I am moved. I think this is one of the things which is lacking in our country,” Brown said.
On Wednesday, Brown asked the Hamilton County Commission for $100,000. WTVC reports commissioners haven’t decided what they will do.
3,446 African Americans were lynched between 1882-1968, according to the NAACP’s History of Lynchings.
Johnson’s last words before he was killed are etched on his tombstone, “God bless you all, I am a innocent man.”
The Ed Johnson Project was created last year to promote racial healing, build a memorial on the Walnut Street bridge, and produce a documentary about the Johnson case.