Duval County has seven documented lynchings with eight victims. The Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project is working to add detail and additional information to what is currently known about them, in addition to looking at some additional cases and identifying living descendants of the victims. These were part of an epidemic of lynchings that took place across 20 states between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and 1950.
The Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project recently held a soil collection ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the lynching of Benjamin Hart in Jacksonville. The lynching, one of thousands of crimes of racial terror designed to instill fear in Black communities and suppress their civil rights, took place on August 24, 1923 off Old Kings Road.
That fateful night, a mob of white men, arrived at a logging camp in northwest Duval County looking for Benjamin Hart. A white girl had accused Hart of peeping into her window early that morning. The mob lined up four black men, picked out Hart, and then drove him to a place along Kings Road, shooting him five times in the back before leaving him in a ditch, handcuffed. No one was ever prosecuted for the crime.
The soil collected at the site of the crime filled two jars: One to be sent to Equal Justice Initiative National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and one to be retained locally.