The Moore's Ford Lynching InfoCenter
1. Racial / Political Tensions
Racial Tensions on the Rise
After World War II, there was considerable social unrest in the United States, especially in the South - and especially regarding the treatment of African-American men returning from service in the armed forces. Many of these veterans were treated with scorn and contempt by white supremacists who feared they might inspire revolt and uprising within black communities.
Lynchings of African-Americans had been on the rise in the years following the war; in 1945 alone, one estimate put the number of lynchings in the Deep South at between ten and fifteen.
The exclusion of most black people from the political system throughout the South had been maintained since the turn of the century (despite several court challenges) but in April 1946, the Supreme Court ruled that white primaries were unconstitutional, paving the way for African-Americans to vote in Democratic Party primaries.
Against this backdrop of racial unrest and the growing animosity of many whites, many black residents of Walton County, Georgia, were preparing to vote in the summer's primary.
The Stabbing of Barnett Hester
© A scene from “Murder in Black and White,” which re-enacts the killings of two black couples; Credit: Federico Negri. The Moore’s Ford Bridge lynching reenactment, photograph by Ben Rollins for the Guardian.
On July 14, 1946, African-American farm-hand Roger Malcolm got into a dispute with local white farmer Barnett Hester not far from Monroe, GA. The actual location was known as HesterTown and was generally regarded as a center of Klan activity in the mid-1940s.
The argument started as a domestic dispute between Roger and his wife Dorothy but quickly escalated into a confrontation with property owner Barnett Hester. Hester then ordered the Malcolms to leave his property.
Upon hearing this, Roger Malcolm stabbed Hester in the stomach with what witnesses described as an ice pick, delivering an injury that would plague the farmer for the rest of his life.
Hester family members grabbed and held Roger Malcolm while Walton County Sheriff’s deputies Lewis Howard and C.J. “Doc” Sorrells, the future sheriff, came to make an arrest. Roger Malcolm went to the Walton County Jail, where he stayed for the next 11 days, in frequent fear for his life.
Re-Election of Eugene Talmadge as Governor
Eugene Talmadge was a controversial and polarizing political figure who played a leading role in Georgia politics from 1926 to 1946. Talmadge won four terms during the Thirties and Forties, although he died before starting his fourth term.
He was vehemently opposed to black civil rights and in 1941 attempted to fire two administrators within the University system – allegedly for their advocacy of integrated public schools. When the Board of Regents turned him down, Talmadge dismissed them all and replaced them with those who agreed with his views. This led to ten Georgia public colleges and universities losing their accreditation.
The racially inflammatory 1946 gubernatorial campaign culminated with balloting on July 17, just three days after Roger Malcolm had stabbed Barnett Hester.
In a 2007 interview with the Associated Press, a University of Georgia historian referred to Talmadge as “one of the most virulently racist governors the state has ever had.”
Sources & Resources
The primary sources used for developing content on these pages include the following:
Pitch, Anthony S., The Last Lynching: How a Gruesome Mass Murder Rocked a Small Georgia Town
Skyhorse Publishing, 307 W. 36th St., 11th Floor, New York City, N.Y. 10018 © 2016 by Anthony S. Pitch
Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI)
Region 11 Investigative Case Summary (565 pages, PDF)
Additional sources used for developing content on these pages include the following:
The 1946 Moore’s Ford Lynching Case: Another Push for Justice on 10/3/2018
By TAPINTO STAFF (Laura Ali)
2018 - September 16
Original entry by E. M. Beck, University of Georgia, Stewart E. Tolnay, University of Washington, Seattle, 01/26/2007
2018 - August 26
Activists look to keep history alive through reenactment of Moore's Ford lynching
By Hope Ford, Adrianne Haney
2018 - July 27
Investigations into 1946 Georgia lynching ends, hope for answers lingers
Chattanooga Times Free Press
2018 - March 7
by Associated Press
1946 Lynching: Investigations End, Hope for Answers Lingers
By: KATE BRUMBACK, Associated Press
2018 - February 27
1946 lynching: Investigations end, hope for answers lingers
AP Images Blog
2018 - February 27
Answers to last mass lynching in U.S. die when investigators close case after 72 years
SPLC - Southern Poverty Law Center, By Brett Barrouquere
2018 - February 7
Notorious Ga. Lynching Case Closes After Years of Anguish, No Justice
Article by Brad Schrade, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
2018 - January 24
Probes of Moore’s Ford Lynching End with No Charges, AJC learns
By Brad Schrade - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
2017 - December 28
Morris County Lawyer Wins Release of Records from 1946 Mass Lynching Case
MorristownGreen.com, by Kevin Coughlin
2017 - August 18
Morris County Attorney Seeks Justice in Gruesome 1946 Lynching
MorristownGreen.com, by Kevin Coughlin
2017 - July 31
Righting an Historic Wrong: The 1946 Moore's Ford Lynching Case May Finally Be Drawing to a Close
By Joe Bell, Esq.
2017 - July 17
The Horror of Lynchings Lives On
The New York Times, by the Editorial Board
2016 - December 3
A Lynching in Georgia: the Living Memorial to America’s History of Racist Violence
2016 - November 2
70th observance of Moore’s Ford lynching set in Monroe; reenactment of killings planned
By Wayne Ford
2016 - July 21
FBI Questions Elderly Georgia Man in Connection with Unsolved 1946 Lynching at Moore’s Ford Bridge
New York Daily News, by Doyle Murphy
2015 - February 17, 2015
Civil Rights Leaders Claim New Leads in 68-year-old Moore’s Ford Lynching Case
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, by Christian Boone
2014 - March 5
U.S. Urges Opening Up Old Grand Jury Records
New York Times, by Charlie Savage
2011 - October 19
Judge Orders Release of Nixon’s Watergate Testimony
By JOHN SCHWARTZ, New York Times
2011 - July 29
Holding on to Those Who Can't Be Held: Reenacting a Lynching at Moore's Ford, Georgia
Central Washington University, by Mark Auslander
2010 - November 8
'Murder' Seeks Justice for Victims Of Jim Crow Era
Special to The Washington Post, by Ellen Maguire
2008 - October 6
Seeking Justice for Victims of Terror Long Ago
New York Times, by Felicia R. Lee
2008 - October 3
New evidence collected in 1946 lynching case
CNN, by Doug Gross
2008 - July 2
Looking Behind Tragedy at Moore's Ford Bridge; Foot soldier of civil rights era works to solve 60-year-old-mystery
NBCNews.com, Associated Press (AP)
2006 - July 24
1946 Killing Of 4 Blacks Is Recalled
New York Times
1999 - June 1