Plaque will mark the site of last Columbia lynching

4 years 2 months 3 weeks ago Monday, April 18 2016 Apr 18, 2016 Monday, April 18, 2016 3:40:00 PM CDT April 18, 2016 in News
By: Laura Barczewski, KOMU 8 Reporter and Chris Green, KOMU 8 Digital Reporter

COLUMBIA - The Association of Black Graduate and Professional Students at MU is donating a plaque that will mark the spot of the last Columbia lynching in 1923 at what was the Stewart Road Bridge.

The city council will accept the plaque at its meeting Monday.

A mob of white people hanged James T. Scott, a janitor at the University of Missouri medical school, after a 14-year-old girl accused him of assault and rape. The mob used a rope to drag him from his holding cell and hang him from the bridge before he could stand trial.

ABGPS used a GoFundMe campaign called "Lest We Forget" to raise the money for the plaque, which will be placed near the intersection of Providence and Stewart roads. The campaign raised $1,935, surpassing the goal of $1,500.

Angela Haeny, president of ABGPS, said the plaque’s location will be significant in reminding people of the lynching.

“We feel that the intersection of Providence and Stewart road is a place that we travel through regularly without recognizing the significant history behind it,” Haeny said.

Mayor Brian Treece agreed, saying the plaque will be an important reminder for what happened at the site.

“When I travel east on Stewart road approaching providence, I like to stop at the hill there at Stewart Road and you can almost imagine the way Stewart Road Bridge would have continued on,” Treece said.

City Councilman Clyde Ruffin thanked the association for working on the plaque project.

“By pursuing this project and putting this marker in a very public space, where there is lots of traffic, lots of pedestrian traffic, you have done us a great service,” Ruffin said.

The plaque will be a part of a proposed African-American Heritage Trail that will run through Columbia in the downtown area.

The Sharp End Heritage Committee is working with the Parks and Recreation Department to plan the sites for the trail.

The trail will include the already existing Beulah Ralph Memorial and Sharp End Historical markers, as well as markers at new sites such as Second Missionary Baptist Church, where Scott was a member, Columbia Cemetery, where a headstone monument honoring Scott currently stands, and Douglass Pool.

The city is looking for individual private sponsors for the markers, and Parks and Recreation will build and maintain them.

ABGPS hopes the plaque honoring Scott will be revealed in September. Brittani Fults, the association’s parliamentarian, said she hopes the marker will serve "as a reminder that while you’re running, you’re walking and you stop to remember that a life was stolen here." However, Fults said the plaque is more than just a reminder of the past.

“Race relations is real, understanding what diversity is is real," Fults said. "This marker is serving as a catalyst for starting that conversation.”

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