Lynching Commemorated 96 Years After Death

Officer Sheryl Tate collects soil from Washington's death site.
 The Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project,  recently held a soil collection ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the lynching of Willie Washington 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 January 31, 1925 in Jacksonville.
The event was open for virtual attendance via the 904Ward website. The agenda included musical and spoken word performances, a recounting of what is known about the life and death of Willie Washington, prayers, and soil collection at the site of the lynching, which was broadcast to attendees.
On January 31, 1925, Willie Washington, a black man, was killed by police in the midst of a gathering lynch mob that later tried to seize and burn his corpse. Police officials decided to try to appease the mob by placing Mr. Washington’s corpse on display in the rotunda of the county jail. The lynching of Mr. Washington directly reflects the kind of racial terror violence that plagued African Americans during this period.
“Few public commemorations of African Americans’ suffering during the post-slavery era — of which racial terror lynchings played a significant role — exist today,” said Lynn Sherman and Melanie Patz, co-chairs of the Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project. “Only by telling the truth about the age of racial terror and collectively reflecting on this period and its legacy can we hope that our present-day conversations about racial exclusion and inequality will be accurate, thoughtful, and informed.”
904WARD creates racial healing and equity through deep conversations and learning, trusting relationships, and collective action. Our vision is an end to racism in Jacksonville so all people thrive. To learn more and sign up to get involved, visit

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