To the editor:
Next year will mark a century since the infamous lynching of a young African-American man in Person County – the only documented lynching case in the county. The victim, Ed Roach from Reidsville, was employed at the construction company of Nello Teer, a prominent Durham businessman, who wrote a letter stating that Mr. Roach was working on his construction site near Roxboro at the time of the alleged assault on a young woman, the crime for which Mr. Roach was accused.
The Durham Morning Herald reported on July 8, 1920 that a mob of approximately 200 masked men had stormed the jail in Roxboro the previous day, July 7, and had taken the incarcerated man to a local African-American church, where he was lynched and riddled with bullets. The tree on which the lynching occurred was subsequently removed, roots and all, by the men of the church.
Now, a century later, a memorial service will be held for the victim, Ed Roach, at the church where this travesty occurred, Shady Hill Baptist Church at 1500 Old Durham Road, Roxboro. The public is invited to the service on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. The service is expected to last approximately one hour.
Unfortunately, we cannot undo the injustices of the past. However, recognizing them and honoring the victims of such heinous actions together make a leap in reconciliation. Participation in this memorial service is a small way we, as citizens of Person County, can support President Lincoln’s premise that “all men are created equal.”