RALEIGH, NC -- A county governing board in North Carolina has formally apologized for the mob lynching of a Black boy unlawfully taken from a jail in 1921, saying it suspected some prominent local officials allowed the killing to take place.
A report issued Tuesday by the Chatham County Board of Commissioners found no investigation ever was conducted to find out who killed Eugene Daniel, 16, but evidence suggests a county commissioner, the county sheriff, the county coroner, and the county jail keeper at the time all were complicit in the death.
“The lynching of Eugene Daniel is a painful part of Chatham County’s history, and while our apology can’t change what happened, we feel it is an important step in helping his family and our entire community heal,” said Chatham County Commissioner Karen Howard, according to local news reports.
News accounts from the time reported Daniel was accused of trespassing inside a home where a white woman said she saw a Black man standing in her bedroom. Daniel was killed by a mob of residents near Moore's Bridge outside of Pittsboro, the Chataham County seat located about 35 miles (50 kilometers) west of the state capital of Raleigh.
Mary Nettles, president of the Chatham Community Branch of the NAACP and the Community Remembers Coalition, said she was pleased that an apology was issued.
“It's a very important first step,” she told the Raleigh News & Observer. "Letting people know and understand what local Black people in the county have gone through.
According to the News & Observer, it is unknown exactly how many people were lynched in North Caroline but researchers say there could have been as many as 300 such killings between 1882 and 1968.
The nation's first memorial to the victims of lynching opened in 2018 in Montgomery, Alabama. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice commemorates 4,400 black people who were slain in lynchings and other racial killings between 1877 and 1950. Their names, where known, are engraved on 800 dark, rectangular steel columns, one for each U.S. county where lynchings occurred.