The People’s Grocery Lynching 125 years later

March1Student leaders of the college’s Kashmir Society joined local historians to participate in a commemoration ceremony and march today marking the 125th anniversary of the People’s Grocery Lynching.

Ministers, local residents and students from Christian Brothers High School at Sacramento attended the event, held at Second Congregational Church on Walker Ave.

Participants learned the story of three African-American store owners – Calvin Mcdowell, Thomas Moss, and Will Stewart of then Peoples Grocery — who were taken from the Shelby County jail and killed in March of 1892.

The three African-American store owners had a successful grocery store that was putting a nearby white grocery owner, William Barrett, out of business. A group of white men entered the store and a shootout ensued, leaving several white men injured. However, only the three African-American owners were jailed.

A few days later, about 75 white men entered and surrounded the Shelby County jail and dragged Mcdowell, Moss, and Stewart away and took them further downtown to the Ohio rail yards. There, they were all shot to death at point blank range.

“This is one of the most significant incidents in American history or even in world history because it launched the African International Crusade against lynching,” said Dr. Clarence Christian, president of National Alumni Association. “But, also it is important because we need to understand our history, and that may help us better understand what is happening today and perhaps help us respond differently than how the response has been in the past.”

The ceremony was followed by a march from Second Congregational Church to the original store site at Mississippi Blvd. and Walker Ave.