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Mo. City to Mark 1906 Lynchings

July 30, 2002

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) _ After years of controversy, the city of Springfield plans to place a marker on the town square where three black men were lynched in 1906 by an angry mob of whites.

A bronze marker will be installed during a Saturday ceremony on Park Central Square in the heart of the city’s downtown district.

``This is an effort to bridge the divisiveness or bring some closure to this issue,″ said Louise Whall, spokeswoman for the city.

The plaque is to be placed near a larger marker dedicated 10 years ago that notes the history of the square from 1835 to 1970.

Noticeably missing on that marker are the events of Easter weekend 1906, when Horace B. Duncan, Fred Coker and Will Allen were pulled from jail and dragged to the town square by an angry mob of about 7,000 people who were fueled by alcohol and rumors of a white woman’s rape.

In front of women and children, the three were lynched, burned and dismembered.

Within hours, hundreds of black people fled, taking with them the strong black community presence that Springfield, nearly all-white today, had once had.

Denny Whayne, first black city council member since the late 1880s, worked privately to get the marker installed. He acknowledged that various proposals to mark the lynchings have drawn intense support and criticism over the years. Some of the harshest critics of commemorating the lynchings are black.

The plaque is simple, noting only that the three were lynched without a trial, Whayne said Monday.

Community activist Sidney Needem said there are only pockets of support among leaders in the black community. ``I think it’s something that needs to be let alone,″ Needem said. ``If we’re going to talk about Springfield, let’s talk about something positive.

``We all know it happened. As the old ladies say, ’Let sleeping dogs lie.‴

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