PRINCESS ANNE — Approximately 30 people including University of Maryland Eastern Shore students, staff, and Main Street Princess Anne officials, walked 20 blocks through the historic downtown retracing the events of three public lynchings which occurred during the Jim Crow Era.
This walk on Oct. 15 marked the seventh year Dr. Michael Lane, director of the Richard A. Henson Honors Program, has led students on a tour to discuss the local tragic events. Over the years, an estimated 250 students have participated in the historic tour.
October 18th was the anniversary of the racial terror lynching of George Armwood, in 1933. Mr. Armwood was accused of theft and sexual assault of Mary Denston but was not afforded the benefit of a fair trial. Rather, Armwood was illegally dragged from his cell, tortured, maimed, hanged twice and set on fire by an angry mob.
Though a handful of individuals were identified as suspects, they were never charged with the crime. Armwood’s was the last documented lynching in the State of Maryland.
In 2019, the Maryland Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established by House Bill 307. The bill passed, was approved by Gov. Hogan, and was enacted June 1 of that year. Locally, the Somerset Lynching Memorial Project Committee was formed as a chapter of the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project. Together, they are working with the state commission and the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a nonprofit, to address related tensions and injustices.
This past summer, the Somerset Lynching Memorial Project received a grant for $7,043, through the Somerset County Maryland Recovery Now program. The funding will be used to conduct outreach to the community and to erect an historic marker acknowledging the four racial terror lynchings that occurred in Somerset County, including Isaac Kemp (1894), William Andrews (1897), James Reed (1907), and George Armwood (1933).
Three of the lynchings occurred in Princess Anne and one (Reed) occurred in Crisfield.
In May 2021, Gov. Hogan granted posthumous pardons to 34 victims of racial terror lynchings, as they were not afforded the benefit of due process. Kemp, Andrews, and Armwood were among those pardoned.
Earlier this month, the Maryland Truth and Reconciliation Commission hosted its first regional public hearing in Allegany County. Locally, the Somerset Lynching Memorial Project Committee is working with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to host a regional public hearing in Somerset County. The meeting, slated for April 2022, will be held at UMES. For more information, visit mdlynchingmemorial.org.