A plaque memorializing Elwood Higginbottom, the seventh and last person known to be lynched in Lafayette County in 1935, will be installed this Saturday in Oxford.
The unveiling ceremony will take place at Second Baptist Church, with a community meal to honor the family after the unveiling ceremony.
“This marker unveiling is the culmination of a year and a half of work that a broad coalition of members of the community have been doing together,” said April Grayson, director of community building with the William Winter Institute.
She said 60 members of Higginbottom’s family and other descendants from the Memphis area, and as far away as Ohio, will be there to sing and lead prayer — including his son, E.W. Higginbottom who is 87 years old. Between 200 and 300 community members are expected to attend.
The plaque was created through a collaboration of Lafayette County community members, the Higginbottom family, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, the Equal Justice Initiative and the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project.
The 90-minute ceremony will be attended by representatives of the three organizations and will feature performances by local singer Effie Burt and the UM Gospel Choir. Janice Antonow of the Oxford Board of Aldermen and Kevin Frye of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors will also be in attendance.
After the ceremony, the marker will be installed at the “Three-Way Intersection” of North Lamar Boulevard and Molly Barr Road where Elwood Higginbottom was killed. One side of the plaque will commemorate the lynching of Elwood Higginbottom and the other side will explain the history of racial violence in America.
Although Elwood Higginbottom’s name has been spelled “Higginbotham” in various media reports and historical documents, Grayson said the family prefers Higginbottom and that spelling will be on the marker.
Even after the marker is unveiled, the organizations involved will continue their work.
“It’s our first marker, but there were seven lynching victims (in Oxford) and we’re hoping to memorialize all of them, so this is an ongoing process,” Grayson said.