known lynching victims of WiCOMICO COUNTY, MD
Garfield King was an 18-year-old Black man who lived in the Trappe District of Wicomico. Mr. King was lynched after he allegedly shot and killed Herman Kenney, a 22-year-old white man, following an argument outside Twigg's General Store. Mr. King told police he shot Kenney in self-defense, but was not afforded his right to trial before jury. Instead, a mob broke into the jail and dragged King from his cell, beating and clubbing him. After unspeakable torture, his body was hung from a tree.
Matthew Williams was a young Black man who was lived in the city of Salisbury, MD before he was lynched on Dec. 4, 1931 at the young age of 23. Prior to his death, Mr. Williams was accused of shooting and killing his white employer, Daniel Elliot. The Salisbury Times notified the public that Mr. Williams was alive and recovering at Peninsula Regional Hospital, inciting an angry mob that dragged him from his hospital bed and hung him on the Wicomico County Courthouse lawn.
An unidentified man's body was found on the railroad tracks on the outskirts of Salisbury in the days after Matthew Williams was lynched. His death certificate lists his name as "John Smith" and cause of death as a railroad accident. However, historians believe that part of the mob that attacked Matthew Williams also sought out unprotected African Americans to harm. The mob may have happened upon "John Smith" as he tried to make his way home on Dec. 4, 1931.
THE SALISBURY LYNCHING MEMORIAL
The Salisbury Lynching Memorial Task Force is a citywide committee dedicated to memorializing the known victims of lynching in Salisbury, MD and promoting community reconciliation throughout Wicomico County. The task force was created in Feb. 2020 by Mayor Jake Day and has since held public meetings, joined grant-funded projects, and made plans to establish a physical marker memorializing the deceased in Spring 2021.
This effort is not new to Wicomico or the Eastern Shore. Prior to the task force's creation, local activists partnered with organizations such as the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and the Wicomico Truth & Reconciliation Initiative (WTRI) to host candlelit vigils for victims, community soil collections, and other events promoting racial reconciliation in Wicomico County. The Maryland Lynching Memorial Project proudly sponsors this site.
The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) works with communities that have been marginalized by poverty and discouraged by unequal treatment. EJI launched an ambitious national effort to create new spaces, markers, and memorials that address the legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation, which shapes many issues today. They're based in Montgomery, Alabama.
The Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University is a humanities research laboratory for university students that also fulfills the historical resource needs of a variety of community researchers. The Nabb Center has six different library guides documenting lynchings on Maryland's Eastern Shore (Wicomico County and Somerset County).
The Maryland Lynching Memorial Project is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization that works to advance the cause of reconciliation in the state of Maryland by documenting the history of racial terror lynchings, advocating for public acknowledgement of these murders, and working to honor and dignify the lives of the victims. The Maryland Lynching Memorial Project proudly sponsors this website.