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Public meeting set for Higginbottom historic marker

Lynching Memorialization in Lafayette County will host a public meeting on Aug. 28 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Tallahatchie Oxford Missionary Baptist Association building, located at 20 Highway 334 in Oxford.

The informational meeting will educate attendees on how the initiative began, as well as plans to unveil a marker honoring the memory of Elwood Higginbottom, the last recorded lynching victim in Lafayette County. A scholarship essay contest sponsored by the Equal Justice Initiative will also be discussed.

Alonzo Hilliard, one of the leaders of Lynching Memorialization in Lafayette County, said the meeting will be a way to unite the LOU community and bring positivity to a tragic situation.

“We want this to be a community-involved project, and let everyone know what they can do,” Hilliard said. “A lot of the college professors are involved, along with their students, and it’s going to be a great thing for Lafayette County.”

Elwood Higginbottom died on Sept. 17, 1935, lynched after killing a white man in self-defense. His wife and three children fled Oxford in the night, going first to Tupelo and ultimately settling in Memphis. Higginbottom returned to the spotlight in 2016, and since then his descendants, including his son E.W., who is now in his 80s, have returned to Oxford on multiple occasions to remember their patriarch’s life. Most recently, the family returned to the supposed site of the lynching to collect a jar of soil as part of EJI’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the only memorial for lynching victims in the U.S.

Earlier this month, the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved the placement of the historic marker, which will take place on Oct. 27 at a time yet-to-be-announced.

All students in grades nine through 12 in Lafayette County will be eligible to participate in the 2018 Racial Justice Essay Contest. Winners will receive scholarship awards totaling $5,000.

“It’s so important for the younger generations to understand the past,” Hilliard said. “And I think through this process, they have begun to understand how important this is.”

Complete instructions are available on Lynching Memorialization in Lafayette County’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LynchingMemorializationInLafayetteCounty. The deadline for entry is Oct. 8.