Community Members Unveil Marker Memorializing Lynching in Roswell, Georgia


On February 28, the Mack Henry Brown Historic Marker Committee of the Fulton County Remembrance Coalition partnered with EJI to unveil and dedicate a historical marker in memory of Mack Henry Brown in Roswell, Georgia. The marker is located in Riverside Park, 575 Riverside Drive, next to Roswell’s Vickery Creek, where Mr. Brown’s body was found.

The historical marker was unveiled virtually via online streaming and social media to enable community members to experience the dedication remotely. A small group of committee members, local officials, and members of various faith communities joined in person to share remarks and reflect on the legacy of Mr. Brown’s lynching.

The marker is a permanent record of racial terror violence that provides everyone in the community exposure to our shared history of racial injustice.

James Brown, Mack Henry Brown Historical Marker Committee Co-Chair

Lynching of Mack Henry Brown

On December 23, 1936, the body of a 40-year-old Black man who had been lynched named Mack Henry Brown was found floating at the confluence of Roswell’s Vickery Creek and the Chattahoochee River. Mr. Brown, who lived and worked at an apartment house in Atlanta, had been missing for over a month.

Before his disappearance, a white man and his wife filed a complaint against Mr. Brown to the police, alleging that Mr. Brown kissed the wife’s hand after making repairs in their apartment. It was later reported that, on the night of November 13, a group of white men came to Mr. Brown’s apartment and abducted him.

When Mr. Brown’s body was found on December 23, he was handcuffed and his feet were bound with wire. Though the date and precise location of his lynching were not determined, a coroner’s jury concluded that Mr. Brown died as a result of two bullets fired into his body.

In this era, accusations against Black men and boys involving white women regularly provoked violent retaliation. Even minor interactions perceived as violations of the racial hierarchy could result in mob lawlessness and lynchings that traumatized and terrified the entire Black community.

Two men were questioned about Mr. Brown’s lynching, but no one was ever charged or held accountable for his death. Memorializing lynching victims like Mack Henry Brown reminds us of our history of racial injustice and the need to remain persistent in the pursuit of equal justice.

Mack Henry Brown Historic Marker Committee of the Fulton County Remembrance Coalition

In the fall of 2018, community members from Atlanta and across Fulton County, Georgia, came together to form the Fulton County Remembrance Coalition (FCRC), dedicated to remembering and memorializing at least 36 known victims of racial terror lynching documented in Fulton County between 1877 and 1950. Since its formation, FCRC has hosted numerous public education and engagement events, from film screenings to panel discussions.

In the spring of 2019, FCRC conducted a series of public soil collection ceremonies for all 36 victims of racial terror lynching, including a public soil collection in memory of Mack Henry Brown in Roswell as their first soil collection event. As community members from Roswell and North Fulton County engaged in the soil collection experience and learned more, the Mack Henry Brown Historic Marker Committee was formed to memorialize Mr. Brown’s lynching.

The committee is composed of numerous locally engaged community members and activists from various backgrounds who are helping to advance local remembrance, host community discussions, and raise awareness about the importance of contemporary conversations that address issues of race, poverty, and inequality in Roswell and North Fulton County.

Lynching in America

Based on EJI’s Lynching in America and Reconstruction in America research, EJI has documented nearly 6,500 racial terror lynchings in America between 1865 and 1950. After slavery ended, many white people remained committed to racial hierarchy and used lethal violence and terror against Black communities to maintain a racial, economic, and social order that oppressed and marginalized Black people. Lynching became the most public and notorious form of racial terrorism and created a legacy of injustice that can still be felt today.

Many African Americans were lynched after exercising their civil rights, defying racial social customs, engaging in interracial relationships, or being accused of crimes, even when there was no evidence to support the accusation. Racial terror lynching was generally tolerated by law enforcement and elected officials who were often complicit in these tragedies. Denied equal protection under the law, lynching victims were regularly pulled from jails, prisons, courtrooms, or police custody by white mobs who faced no legal repercussions.

Many Black people like Mack Henry Brown were lynched for alleged social transgressions with no allegation of any legitimate crime. Racial terror lynchings often included burnings and mutilation, sometimes in front of crowds numbering in the thousands. Although many victims of racial terror lynching will never be known, at least 594 racial terror lynchings have been documented in Georgia between 1877 and 1950, with at least 36 victims in Fulton County.

Community Remembrance Project

The Community Remembrance Project is part of our campaign to recognize the victims of lynching by collecting soil from lynching sites, erecting historical markers, and developing the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which acknowledges the horrors of racial injustice.

As part of our effort to help towns, cities, and states confront and recover from tragic histories of racial violence and terrorism, EJI is joining with communities to install historical markers in communities where the history of lynching is documented. The narrative historical marker in Roswell is among dozens of narrative markers sponsored by EJI to date.

We believe that understanding the era of racial terror is critical if we are to confront its legacies in the challenges that we currently face from mass incarceration, excessive punishment, police violence, and the presumption of guilt and dangerousness that burdens people of color today.