Prince George’s Co. organization offers tour to memorialize lynching victims

The lynching of Thomas Juricks was a racist blow against the movement among Black people to be educated. (Courtesy Prince George’s County Lynching Memorial Project)

On Sunday, a walking tour will memorialize the first documented lynching in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

The Prince George’s County Lynching Memorial Project offers tours focused on educating the community about the history of lynchings throughout the county and the importance of racial justice through reconciliation.

“Our goals are to memorialize the victims of racial terror lynching,” said Blair Bowie, a voting rights attorney and one of the organization’s tour guides. On Sunday, she’ll take walkers on a tour of a lynching in Piscataway in 1869.

Thomas Juricks, a father of six and a sharecropper, was accused of assaulting a white woman.

“He was hanged and shot and the lynch mob buried him across the street from the Freedmen’s Bureau School,” said Bowie.

It was an act of terror that devastated the school’s enrollment, a form of retaliation against Black people seeking an education. “It sort of beat back the will of this burgeoning community,” said Bowie.

Eventually, the Chapel Hill community bounced back from the incident and continued to build, becoming a prosperous Black community decades after the lynching.

Bowie said she recently traced her own ancestry back to a slave owner after seeing a family member’s name on a posting for a runaway slave in an Alabama museum. She hopes to share some of the burden of this work. “I think it’s important that white folks are involved, but we can’t own this and we can’t drive it,” she added.

While schools don’t focus on teaching about the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War, she said, that makes it more important for residents to take that step on their own. “One way to do that is to come out and do that with members of your community.”

The free tour will begin Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Fort Washington Forest Community Center.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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