’s Ford Lynching Essay, Research Paper
The Long Route Home:
On July 25, 1946, two young black couples- Roger and Dorothy Malcom, George and Mae Murray Dorsey-were killed by a lynch mob at the Moore’s Ford Bridge over the Appalachee River connecting Walton and Oconee Counties (Brooks, 1). The four victims were tied up and shot hundreds of times in broad daylight by a mob of unmasked men; murder weapons included rifles, shotguns, pistols, and a machine gun. “Shooting a black person was like shooting a deer,” George Dorsey’s nephew, George Washington Dorsey said (Suggs C1). It has been over fifty years and this case is still unsolved by police investigators. It is known that there were atleast a dozen men involved in these killings. Included in the four that were known by name was Loy Harrison. Loy Harrison may not have been an obvious suspect to the investigators, but Harrison was the sole perpetrator in the unsolved Moore’s Ford Lynching case. The motive appeared to be hatred and the crime hurt the image of the state leaving the town in an outrage due to the injustice that left the victims in unmarked graves (Jordon,31).
Many African Americans lived on farms and tended for white landowners. Bob Hester was a landowner, on this farm the Moore’s Ford Lynching began. On July 14, Roger Malcom followed Dorothy Malcom to Hester’s farm, Roger was arguing with her. According to the original FBI report,
Hester’s son, Barney, told Malcom to leave. As he was leaving a fight broke out between Malcom and Hester. Malcom then pulled out a knife and stabbed Hester in the chest. The reason for the argument is uncertain although at that time Barney Hester may have been having an affair with Dorothy Malcom. One of the neighbors said that the black community felt it had more to do with sex than anything else did (Suggs,C1). After the fight broke out, Barney Hester was taken to the hospital and Roger Malcom was taken to jail.
On the morning before the lynchings, Harrison drove to the house of Dorothy Malcom’s parents, who had begged with him to get Roger Malcom out of jail since the stabbing occurred. Harrison refused to pick him up at first, but suddenly changed his mind. Harrison took along with him Dorothy Malcom , who was pregnant at the time, and George Mae Murray Dorsey to Monroe. Their Harrison signed a $600 bond to bail Roger Malcom out of jail. Harrison, with the two black couples in his car, left the county jail at about 5:30 p.m. on July 25, 1946, and headed back along the Athens Highway toward his farm. Authorities said the route he chose was the longest way home, along a winding dirt road (Suggs,C4). According to Harrison, when he reached the bridge at Moore’s Ford, a car blocked his way (Rivers,1). A mob of twenty to twenty-five unmasked men stopped him at gunpoint (Suggs, C1). Then they took the two couples into the woods, tied them to the trees and shot them. They were so savagely beaten and overwhelmed with bullets that their bodies were ripped to shreds. “ The only way to tell the bodies apart was by their lips.” Investigator Bobby Howard said. When questioning Harrison he told the local authorities and the FBI he could not identify any members of the
mob or explain how they knew which way he was coming home. No one was ever prosecuted for the slayings of the African Americans and why it happened is left too much conjecture (Rivers, 1).
The six month investigation following the incident that came to be known as the Moore‘s Ford lynching garnered sensational headlines that horrified the nation, but yielded nothing (Ford,1). FBI agents eventually left the county unable to break the code of silence that protected the killers. A state official was quoted as saying at the time that the county’s residents were hampering the investigation by refusing to reveal what they knew (Suggs,C1). Over one hundred people were taken before a grand jury, but there was never any key evidence leading to the murderers. Anyone that may have had information was afraid to talk about the situation at that time. The fact that whites had so much power over the justice in Walton County kept people in fear of also being killed if they repeated what they knew.
The day that Harrison picked up Roger Malcom from jail was the day him and his family died, but Harrison was never suspected as playing a part in the murder. Now forty-six years later there is evidence proving that Harrison could be the answer to justice for Walton County. Decades passed and then dramatic new testimony came forth that shed new light on what might have happened that day (Ford,2). A man named Clinton Adams, now living in Florida, came forth in 1992 with a shocking story. Clinton Adams, who was ten years old at the time of the killings, along with a friend, Emerson Farmer, who is now deceased was laying in a pine thicket just yards away and watched everything that happened. It has taken Adams forty-six years to talk about the situation because he was also in fear of
what society would have done to him at that time. Adam states in front of a Superior Court Justice that Harrison was in fact one of the murderers in the killings (Jordon, 32). All the shooters Adams has named are dead, and he refused to name anyone still living. Therefore the case was still unsolved because of the lack of evidence given to police investigators that reopened the case at that time. Although Adams’ testimony was never led to anyone being charged, it rekindled interest in the case. The deep emotional and psychological wounds inflicted on the community by this terrible crime can never be completely healed until an honest attempt is made to secure justice (Rivers, 2). This incident led to historic changes that caused the creation of the first ever presidential commission on race, desegregation of the military and passage of and anti lynching legislation (Jordon, 36).
With the goal of prosecuting any living person who is found to have been involved as a accomplice in the murders of Roger Malcom, Dorothy Malcom, her unborn child, George Dorsey and Mae Murray Dorsey is the purpose of finding evidence to put an end to this tragic incident (Ford,2). Due to the fact that investigators were completely oblivious to the evidence that was clear in front of their faces has kept this case going on for over fifty years now. Whites had so much power over everyone in town during this period of time that justice became almost impossible to come by for murder cases such as this. “The way I look at it, they say they did it ‘cause they knew nothing was going to be done about it.” Investigator Bobby Howard said. It is quite obvious that Harrison was the organizer of the lynching case that has left Walton County Georgia with little answers to complete the truth, but enough evidence to know he is the sole perpetrator. The facts that conclude this to be in truth
are, first, he completely changed his mind about picking Roger Malcom up within minutes as if the situation had already been arranged along with the fact that he took three other African Americans in relations with Roger Malcom. Secondly, Harrison took a long route home, which was uncommonly taken for people at this time. The fact that a long the way he was stopped by a dozen men on a bridge fully loaded with weapons and he was the only one not murdered in the car leads to suspicion. Harrison was a white man and this could be an answer to why he was not killed. If Harrison did not have anything to do with these murders then he would have been killed also due to the fact that he could have told police investigators evidence to the murder. Thirdly, if Harrison laid down $600 to get a black person out of jail, which was not accepted at this time in society, it could have led to the closing stages that Harrison would have spent money at any cost to see the African Americans dead. Although Harrison is deceased, the evidence that has been proven thus far concludes that he was the sole perpetrator and if he was still alive, he could answer questions that remain unanswered.