The History Of Lynching In WNC - And Will It Be Remembered?

Mar 27, 2019

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama features monuments for lynchings that occurred in more than 800 U.S. Counties.  That includes Buncombe, Haywood, Macon, and Cherokee Counties in Western North Carolina.  Exact replicas of each monument have also been created, with designers hoping they are taken to be displayed in the counties here each lynching has occurred.  That hasn't happened yet for those destined for Western North Carolina.

Smoky Mountain News reporter and BPR contributor Cory Vaillancourt examined the Haywood County lynching, and the current discussion around whether the monument honoring the victim George Ratcliff should be brought to the county.  Ratcliff was arrested in 1900 and accused of the alleged rape of the 10-year granddaughter of the farmer he worked for outside of Clyde.  Just a day after his arrest, Ratcliff was shot more than 40 times in his jail cell by an angry mob, having never gone to trial or even speaking to a lawyer as far as history can tell. 

Vaillancourt sat down with BPR's Matt Bush to discuss the lynching monuments, a meeting last weekend of the Haywood County NAACP chapter that focused on the monument to Ratcliff, and how these monuments fit into the national discussion about the future of existing Confederate monuments that stand in many of the same counties where lynchings took place.