‘It is Tangible’: George Marshall Clark, Milwaukee’s Solely Recognized Lynching Sufferer, Now Memorialized With Gravestone | WUWM 89.7 FM

On September 6, 1861, 24-year-old George Marshall Clark and one other Black man, James Shelton, had been arrested after an altercation with two white males, Dabney Carney and John Brady.

The struggle ended after Shelton stabbed Carney and slashed Brady. Carney recognized Shelton as his assailant earlier than he died the subsequent day.

A white mob stormed town jail quickly after Carney’s demise. On September 8, as Shelton hid, Clark was kidnapped and lynched in Milwaukee’s Third Ward on the nook of Water and Buffalo streets. After his physique was reduce down, he was taken to Forest Dwelling Cemetery and buried in an unmarked grave in a public lot.

160 years later, on September 8, 2021, the burial website lastly was marked with a correct gravestone due to the efforts of native artist and activist Tyrone Randle, Jr. and Forest Dwelling Cemetery.

“It form of stirs me slightly bit to see this many our bodies out right here who care concerning the schooling behind this,” stated Randle, as he regarded out to the gang of about 100 individuals gathered on the cemetery.

Audrey Nowakowski

About 100 individuals gathered within the Victorian Backyard at Milwaukee’s Forest Dwelling Cemetery for the memorial and unveiling of a gravestone for George Marshall Clark, Milwaukee’s solely identified lynching sufferer.

Randle first researched George Marshall Clark in the summertime of 2020, alongside together with his associate Aadya Wynter, after they had been planning a march to the grave website. Nonetheless, after they found Clark’s grave was unmarked, it grew to become Randle’s mission to lift the funds wanted to memorialize Clark with a gravestone.

“It is simple to simply act like one thing does not exist if you cannot see it. So the truth that it is tangible…that really occurred. I can go and I can say, like, that is a physique within the floor,” Randle famous. “I believe individuals want to have the ability to see that.”

Forest Dwelling Cemetery gross sales counselor Garen Morris was working the day that Randle was looking for Clark’s burial website. Collectively, they combed by way of internment information and bodily mapped out the place the grave was positioned.

READ: ‘It’s About Healing’: Activist Works To Memorialize Milwaukee’s Only Black Lynching Victim

“I hate to place it as any grave that lastly will get marked makes me really feel good, however to know that that is one which has an enormous historic worth to the neighborhood, to this cemetery, and to our peace of thoughts to know that subsequent time we need to discover this, it will be simple,” stated Morris. “And that gravestone is only a small piece of telling a narrative.”

Randle and Morris stated it was a demanding course of to ensure they may dedicate a gravestone in time for the anniversary. Amongst a few of the last-minute modifications was the fabric used: American black granite.

“Possibly it is even unintended, however ‘American black’ that sounds fairly becoming, proper, for the state of affairs. So I believe that was fairly cool,” stated Randle.

Morris added that in addition they found that the granite used for the gravestone was quarried from Clark’s house state of Pennsylvania.

The ceremony to unveil Clark’s gravestone was held by Forest Dwelling Cemetery and America’s Black Holocaust Museum. Neighborhood leaders, historians and activists had been amongst these gathered within the cemetery’s Victorian Backyard on a transparent afternoon, surrounded by numerous bushes and headstones, giant and small.

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Audrey Nowakowski

Dr. Robert Smith (proper), President and CEO of America’s Black Holocaust Museum addresses the gang at George Marshall Clark’s gravesite.

America’s Black Holocaust Museum President & CEO Dr. Robert Smith stated that whereas it’s painful to go over this brutal occasion, it’s essential.

“The factor about historical past and telling the reality about historical past is it brings about a specific amount of understanding and dignity, fairly frankly,” he stated. “And so now [George Marshall Clark’s] story is being instructed, and so it will hopefully spark some curiosity with particularly a few of our youthful generations to say, what else have we not been instructed?”

Educator and public historian Reggie Jackson was one of many audio system for the revealing and memorial. For him, it was essential that the neighborhood memorialize Clark the person, not the lynching sufferer.

“Let’s consider what we’re doing for George Marshall Clark tonight, not being a celebration of the truth that we’re acknowledging this lynching. However then we’re celebrating his life that was ended by that lynching,” Jackson stated.

Hearken to extra

Hearken to the prolonged protection of the dedication to George Marshall Clark’s gravestone featured on Lake Impact.

Jackson stated that Clark was, from all accounts, a popular younger man in the neighborhood. He was studying to develop into a barber beneath his father George, who owned a barber store in Milwaukee. Jackson additionally famous that Clark’s life intersected with an attention-grabbing time in our state’s historical past.

Wisconsin was a free state with a singular abolitionist angle, refusing to implement the Fugitive Slave Act. The rescue of Joshua Glover, a Black man who escaped slavery in St. Louis to freedom in Racine in 1852, was a testomony to this.

READ: Milwaukee Black History: How Joshua Glover’s Rescue Contributed To The Repeal Of Fugitive Slave Act

“Now, are you able to think about being a Milwaukeean and at the moment, being a metropolis that had celebrated a gaggle of residents who went into Milwaukee to free a Black man who had been wrongly jailed within the Milwaukee County Jail, a narrative that all of us have a good time. But, just some years later, a distinct group broke into that very same jail with utterly totally different intentions,” famous Jackson.

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Audrey Nowakowski

Educator and public historian Reggie Jackson of Nurturing Range Companions led closing remarks of the ceremony at Forest Dwelling Cemetery.

Jackson stated Clark’s lynching is a stain on Milwaukee’s historical past that isn’t extensively identified.

“College students in Milwaukee do not be taught the story of George Marshall Clark’s lynching…It is time we begin educating all of them that starting at present…We have now to grasp the racial animus that led to that struggle, and the racial animus that led to the lynching. It is nonetheless alive and properly at present sadly, 160 years later,” Jackson stated.

Jackson continued, “We have to embrace the variety of our neighborhood, in order that we are able to start to work on not essentially racial restore and reconciliation, however conversations that result in racial restore and reconciliation…I do know that if George Marshall Clark had been right here at present, he would say one thing alongside these traces: ‘I am actually unhappy that issues haven’t modified as a lot as they need to have within the final 160 years.'”

Interfaith Convention of Better Milwaukee govt director Pardeep Singh Kaleka known as for justice and therapeutic — and for individuals to replicate on the methods they perpetuate racial injustice at present.

“It’s properly understood that our nation has its roots in racialized non secular and ethnic violence. Our foundational grime is so dirty in bloodshed, that it is a marvel that grass nonetheless grows, and bushes nonetheless blossom,” he stated. “However they do. And so do Black households, so does Black love, and so does Black brilliance. However that doesn’t imply that we are able to ignore Black ache, nor be absolved of our personal duty in inflicting it.”

After remarks concluded, individuals walked from the Victorian Backyard to Part 17 of Forest Dwelling Cemetery to assemble round Clark’s gravesite. Tyrone Randle stood behind the gravestone, which was lined in an emerald fabric.

“I’m emotional. I’m completely satisfied, however I am additionally at a spot the place I do know that this work’s not completed. There are much more Black figures who’ve completed nice work who’re nonetheless left unnoticed, and I believe that’s one thing that should change. It is one thing that’s essential for Black youngsters to have heroes to look as much as, particularly on this metropolis…I am completely satisfied that this has come to a conclusion for Marshall, and the work’s not completed, y’all,” stated Randle.

The fabric was pulled away, displaying a black granite gravestone that reads:

George Marshall Clark
July 1st, 1837
September eighth, 1861
Devoted on September eighth, 2021
Lest We Neglect

The marker was blessed, and every individual on the ceremony laid a flower on the gravestone, lastly paying respect to a person’s life taken.

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