Montgomery Co. to honor victims of 19th century lynchings in Rockville

Montgomery County, Maryland, is devoting this weekend to paying respects to the victims of racial injustice dating back more than a century.

John Diggs-Dorsey and Sidney Randolph were two Black men who were lynched during the 19th century in Rockville.

The county is designating this Saturday and Sunday — Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 — as Remembrance Weekend.

The commemoration events will be carried by Montgomery History and the Montgomery County Lynching Memorial Project, in conjunction with the Montgomery County Remembrance and Reconciliation Commission.

Ever since George Floyd’s death in May 2020, many areas of the U.S. have undergone a racial reckoning by re-examining the ways in which they mark history, especially in terms of who and what is honored from decades and even centuries gone by.

County Executive Marc Elrich told WTOP that he believes the notion of a racial reckoning has been around for some time, but no one’s ever really taken the steps to show that it’s been absorbed.

“Every once in a while we get awakened,” Elrich said. “The question is, can we stay awakened and can we start translating what we know [and what] we need to do into actions that can make it possible.”

On Saturday, Montgomery History will host a virtual discussion titled “Unwritten Law: A Symposium on the Lynchings in Rockville” from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Historians will share accounts about the lynchings and analyze how similar murders were carried out throughout Maryland and the country during the late 1800s.

Then, on Sunday, people will take part in a pilgrimage walk from the old county jail to the area in which both men were killed, passing by other sites that were part of what was once a vibrant African American community.

The ceremony will also include a soil collection, music and reflections by community leaders.

A member of the Equal Justice Initiative from Montgomery, Alabama, will also participate.

Ken Duffy

Ken Duffy is a reporter and anchor at WTOP with more than 20 years of experience. He has reported from major events like the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, 2016 Election Night at Trump Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.

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