Every year, for the past seven years, a group of historical actors and justice seekers reenact the lynching deaths of two black women and two black men in Monroe, Georgia.
No one was ever prosecuted for the killings which occurred 67 years ago in late July, in large part due to lack of witnesses willing to speak out against the killers. For that reason, organizers — known as the Moore’s Ford Memorial Committee — see the event as a “call for justice” as well as a reminder of America’s sordid racial history. Leaders of the committee, like civil rights activist Bobby Howard, believe that at least one of the lynching suspects is still alive in the town.
"We know that one of those people involved in the lynching is still alive," Howard, the narrator of the event, said to the gathering before the reenactment began last year. “We’re going to motorcade through there real slow, to let them know, we know who they are and we’re still watching you.”
The group acts out the killings every year on the Moore’s Ford bridge about 40 miles east of Atlanta, based on what is known of the gruesome events:
Rumors that George Dorsey, a black man who fought in World War II, was secretly dating a white woman in town, prompted a white mob to round up Dorsey and his wife Mae Murray Dorsey, who was seven months pregnant on July 15, 1946. In addition, the mob, led by the Ku Klux Klan, kidnapped Roger Malcolm, who allegedly stabbed a white farmer during a knife fight 11 days earlier along with his wife Dorothy Malcom. The two couples were then dragged from a vehicle, and tied to trees. Afterwards, using rifles and shotguns, the mob fired dozens of bullets into their bodies, leaving them at the Moore’s Ford bridge.
Videos of the reenactment are surely difficult to watch, with local white residents playing Klansmen and black residents playing the victims. While the biracial group of actors lacks period costumes and professional training, unlike most reenactments, this display is about more than just historical authenticity.
"What is happening at Moore’s Creek… falls outside of the normal categories [of historical reenactment]—it is reenactment as a political act," noted public historian Larry Cebula at the Eastern Washington University.
"This is historical reenactment as protest. The reenactors are not only seeking recognition of what happened, they are demanding justice."