Ugly Events In Our Past Must Not Be Forgotten - Response (2)

Monday, September 20, 2021
It is good that Chattanooga has erected a memorial to Ed Johnson. The ugly events in our past must not be forgotten.

While we are remembering, we should not forget the late Leroy Philips, whose research brought the Ed Johnson affair back into our current attention.

As a defense attorney, Leroy was a tireless fighter for the underdogs.

John L. Odom
Ooltewah
 
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I agree that ugly events in our past should not be forgotten.  So then why is it that so many people have an issue with the Confederacy and its heritage wanting to remove statues and sweep the Confederacy under the rug as if those ugly events in the past didn't happen.  It's history and history must be preserved for the generations to come to see where mistakes were made not to repeat in the future just like the history of Ed Jones.

I'm very sorry for the lynching of Mr. Jones, but by having a memorial are we really trying to bridge the races?  I think it's harmful to race relations.  Can you imagine the young African American child asking their mother and/or father what happened with the response. Mr. Jones was hung here by a gang of white men.

What good will that do to bridging the gap of racism?   

Michael G. Mansfield

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Dear Mr. Mansfield,

The man who was lynched on the Walnut Street Bridge in 1906 was named Ed Johnson, not Mr. Jones. Many in the black community here knew Ed Johnson's name long before the Memorial. 

There are black folks today who have not walked across the Walnut Street Bridge because they know that two black men were lynched from that bridge: Alfred Blount in 1893 and Ed Johnson in 1906.

The Memorial is here to remind us of the worst of humanity, lest we forget and repeat it.

The Memorial is here to remind us of the best of humanity so that we may emulate it. Just before he was lynched Ed Johnson said to the mob, "God bless you all. I am a innocent man."

The Memorial is here to inspire us to act courageously for what's right. Noah Parden and Styles
Hutchins, two black attorneys in Chattanooga, took Ed Johnson's appeal all the way to the United States Supreme Court despite death threats — and they changed the trajectory of American civil rights law for the better for all of us. We should know their names. It is our heritage.

The Memorial is here to acknowledge past wrongs. Only by recognizing trauma can we begin to heal from it — all of us, black and white.

I hope everyone will visit the Memorial, read the plaques, see the statutes, and take time to think deeply and reflectively about how we can make our community and our country a better place.

I end with this message engraved in stone at the Memorial: "I wasn't there to care then, but I am here to care now." 

Katharine McCallie Gardner


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