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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

Cassandra Green, Present Director of the Moore’s Ford Memorial Committee

For 13 years, civil rights activists, under the direction of Cassandra Green, have done reenactments of the lynching.

These scenes, which the actors have poured their hearts and souls into their parts, are extremely 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, an actor playing 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.