Officials unveil state historic marker to commemorate lynching in Waco

WACO, Texas (KWTX) – More than 100 years after a black man was lynched in Waco, local leaders want to make sure the community never forgets his name. On Saturday afternoon, city officials and racial justice leaders unveiled a state historic marker to commemorate Jesse Washington.

Hundreds of people from all over Texas gathered for the unveiling of Washington’s new badge, including Washington’s family, including his cousin Mary Pearson.

“I thought there weren’t too many people because they were preparing for the Super Bowl,” Pearson said. “It’s just fun to see what’s going on.”

In 1916, Washington was just 17 years old when a McLennan County jury sentenced him to death for killing a white woman. Immediately following the verdict, protesters seized Washington and hanged, tortured, burned, and dismembered his body in front of 10,000 people, including children.

“We’ve had to take a lot of steps to get here, but by the grace of God, when he says it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen,” Pierson said.

The journey to reach the goal began on the 100th anniversary of the lynching. That’s when a local organization called the Community Relations Coalition started working with the Waco NAACP to get a state historic marker.

“I think we have to commend the community of McLennan County and Waco for what they’ve done to get to this point,” said Waco NAACP President Peaches Henry.

Pierson said now that her cousin’s story will live forever in front of city hall, the marker can be a catalyst for change.

“I think there is a shift,” Pearson said. “We still have a long way to go. We haven’t achieved it yet, we need to change a lot. On this day, I think change begins.”

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