Memphis remembers 125th anniversary of People's Grocery Store Lynching

Memphis remembers 125th anniversary of People's Grocery Store Lynching
Published: Mar. 9, 2017 at 10:28 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2017 at 7:35 PM CST
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(Source: WMC Action News 5 archives)
(Source: WMC Action News 5 archives)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - In 1892, a tragedy in Memphis made the front page of the New York Times. Thursday marks the 125th anniversary of the People's Grocery Store Lynching.

In March 1892, several white men rushed an African-American grocery store in South Memphis. Three African-American men were arrested following the attack. Later, a mob rushed Shelby County jail, took the men out, and lynched them.

Thomas Moss was killed on March 9, 1892 along with Will Stewart and Calvin McDowell, all black men lynched by a white mob in Memphis while in police custody.

The killings are known as the People's Grocery Lynching. It happened because a white store owner got angry that a black-owned grocery store was thriving.

Thursday, members of the community came together at Zion Cemetery on South Parkway to remember the attack. The lynching victims are all buried in the cemetery, the oldest African-American cemetery in Memphis.

During the service, a wreath was laid on the grave site of Moss, whose headstone was recently discovered.

More than 30,000 people are buried in Zion Cemetery. A restoration project that started in 1988 continues to uncover headstones and other things from Memphis history.

"This is truly a jewel, a landmark on our community," Pastor Roland Johnson Jr. said. "A historical remnant which we must take advantage of and let others know what actually happened here."

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