Sara Hill: Event raises questions

Published 11:51 pm Wednesday, July 26, 2017

By Sara Hill

Special to the Salisbury Post

In response to article “Service to mark healing for 1906 Salisbury Lynchings,” Tuesday, July 20, 2017:

I just don’t understand it. I try with all my heart and head to make sense of it. I read the headlines, front page of the Salisbury Post on July 20 — “Service to mark healing for 1906 Salisbury Lynchings.” It was in 1906 in which this horrible crime took place. And now on Aug. 6, 2017, we are able to commemorate this event and try to, in some community effort, help people bring healing to their being from this injustice for something the people don’t even remember.

Unfortunately and so horrendously sad, the legal system at the time in 1906 did not have the opportunity to get justice for Isaac Lyerly, his wife and two young children who were axed to death, or to give justice to the accused John Gillespie, Nease Gillespie and Jack Dillingham.

In this article published by the Post, historian Claude Clegg was quoted as saying, “This painful history needs to be remembered before it can be healed.” He also said, “I think that history is the foundation of our present. History matters,” he said. This is where my mind and heart feels that this historian is dancing around the perimeters of reality and truth, when in just recent events Confederate monuments are destroyed and flags are removed, etc.

I agree with Mr. Clegg on this — history matters. And some history is extremely painful. But we thank God, now it’s history. Certainly there is no way it can be changed no matter how hard and long we demonstrate or commemorate.

So I ask Mr. Clegg who has written a book about the lynching that took place over 100 years ago — who in my mind seems to be loading the gun with more negative ammunition — who now has the ear and cooperation of churches in Salisbury. What is all this about? A history lesson? To sell books? You stated in the Post, “letting the story (lynching) remain forgotten stands in the way of understanding.” You said, “it’s just an open acknowledgment about what happened, getting it out on the table and out community can be made stronger by owning up to our past.” Wow! You mentioned “hope.” There is no hope served on this table you are preparing. No, not any.

Mr. Clegg. Where have you been all these years that Salisbury, its churches and organizations have been striving to reach out to all races to come together in our community? And with God’s help, we will continue to strive.

You also said, “History can be a cautionary tale, one that warns of problems and pitfalls to avoid.” Understanding that and looking forward, not backward 111 years, seems to be a better way of making a mark for healing, love and understanding.

Sara Hill lives in Salisbury.