The Moore's Ford Lynching InfoCenter
14. Never Forget Moore's Ford
The Moore's Ford Memorial Committee
© 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.
The best justice that can be exacted from the Moore's Ford Lynching is to call attention to it in perpetuity, a reminder of the evil to which some people resort to assert "superiority." To that end, the Moore's Ford Memorial Committee, made up of residents from Walton, Oconee, Morgan and Athens/Clarke counties, intends to erect a historical marker and sponsor a scholarship program, art exhibits and reading materials for libraries.
The committee's efforts were cited by President Clinton's Initiative on Race for its memorial efforts. The group said it will now work to provide college scholarships for seniors in Oconee and Walton counties. "For a half-century, anonymous killers have had the last word on Moore's Ford," said committee member Richard Rusk. "But, we --- the good citizens of Athens/Clarke County, Morgan, Oconee and Walton --- will write the final chapter."
Cassandra Green, Present Director of the Moore's Ford Memorial Committee
For the past 13 years, civil rights activists have reenacted the lynching, with 10 of those under the direction of Cassandra Green. Actors have poured their souls into parts, both difficult to watch. And difficult to play.
But it's necessary, according to the actors.
“I know it’s hard on you guys, cause when you have to stand up there and say n***** and a lot of these things, it’s not easy, and that’s why it’s so hard to get people to do it,” Green explained to the actors.
“It’s very emotional, cause I’m going to be having the Klan’s people yelling at me,” described Sophia Johnson, playing the part of a black voter.
While Benjamin explained that she has to remind herself that she's only telling the story, for Bob Caine, who plays a Klansman, said he has to go home and try to quiet his soul.
“It takes a lot out of me," he said.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation closed the Moore’s Ford lynching case in January of 2018, ending official efforts to solve this case. But that won’t stop the reenactments, or the feeling that if the country tries to forget, it's doomed to repeat.
Activists look to keep history alive through reenactment of the Moore's Ford lynching.
Remembering Rich Rusk
Rich Rusk, Founding Member of the Moore's Ford Memorial Committee (Secretary), passed away in January, 2018.
Rusk was best known in the community as the vanguard and secretary of the Moore’s Ford Memorial Committee, which brought national attention to the 1946 lynching of two African-American couples at the Walton-Oconee county border.
Rusk helped form the committee in 1997 to pay tribute to the victims of the Moore’s Ford lynching. In addition to restored cemetery graves, new tombstones, a historical marker and a scholarship fund, the committee helped the re-opening of the case.
Rusk was largely influenced by an aging witness who approached the FBI a few years earlier. A swirl of publicity—much of it led by Rusk, who wrote for the short-lived Oconee Arrow and later penned regular columns for The Oconee Enterprise, compelled the FBI and GBI to re-examine the case. However, there was not enough evidence to move forward, and the GBI has since ended its investigation.
It should be noted that Rich Rusk was an invaluable aid to Anthony S. Pitch in gathering and developing the local (Walton County) meetings, interviews and visits that helped to give Pitch’s book such depth of authenticity.
Sadly, Rich Rusk passed away in January, 2018, never having lived long enough to see the incredible progress made by his friend Anthony S. Pitch in getting to the bottom of the Moore’s Ford mystery.
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