Organizations striving for racial reconciliation to honor Harris County lynching victim

HARRIS COUNTY, GA (WTVM) – A commemoration has been scheduled to honor the life and legacy of a Harris County lynching victim.

ONE Harris County is partnering with The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University School of Law and the family of lynching victim Henry "Peg" Gilbert for the event.

Based on "Hope in the Cities" in Richmond, Va., and the Troup County Racial Trust Building Initiative, ONE Harris County is made up of citizens coming together to build trust between one another and bridge the gaps that create racial and cultural barriers between us.

"We come together today to honor those bones and the life they represented," said Prof. Margaret Burnham of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project.

The event will also re-dedicate the gravestone markers for Gilbert and his wife Mae Henry Davenport Gilbert.

On May 4, 1947, Gus Davidson accidentally hit a calf in Troup County. The calf belonged to Olin Sands who confronted Davidson. According to Davidson, Sands pulled a gun on him and he shot in self-defense. The shooting took place near the Union Springs Baptist Church where Gilbert was a deacon. Davidson fled.

Officers from Troup and Harris counties and a group of people, searched for Davidson and in the process terrorized the African American community. W.H. Buchanan, Chief of Harris County Police, arrested Gilbert, a 42-year-old prosperous farmer who worked about 100 acres of his own land. He was married with four daughters.

Today, descendants of the Gilbert family were joined by members of the community to recognize this injustice. A civil rights marker and a new gravestone will be unveiled.

"Our system of law works well, some of the time," said Judge Ron Mullins of the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit. "I saw some of the time because, in Mr. Gilbert's case, it didn't work at all."

"I'm here to acknowledge a wrong, and remember a dark time in our history," said Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley. "And to promise not only to myself but my profession, that it should never happen again."

The event will take place at Union Springs Methodist Church at 11 a.m.

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