Salisbury city leaders formally apologize for 1906 lynchings of 3 black men

SALISBURY, N.C. — Salisbury city leaders have formally apologized more than 100 years after the public lynching of three black men.

Late last summer, Mayor Al Heggins wanted leaders to pass a resolution to apologize for the lynchings, but most opposed.

Council then asked a community group to study the matter and write up an alternate resolution of reconciliation, which council passed Tuesday night -- in part.

Another portion of the plan was to create an equity commission, but that was not approved. Council members will continue that discussion at a later date.

Heggins was surprised about how the Salisbury City Council responded over the summer.

"I have an expectation that we all understand what it means to be compassionate,” Heggins said.

A mob hung the men, suspected in the killing of four white citizens, without due process.

Catawba College professor Gary Freeze said between 1904 and 1914, lynching was at its highest level in the south.

“There are efforts to keep law and order, but those efforts are never followed through,” Freeze said. “You don't kill white people to save black people in the new South.”

The mayor drafted a resolution, saying the council should apologize for "our government's role in this atrocity."

The resolution also gives “condolences to all descendants" of those killed.

Some council members were angry and most opposed the resolution, Heggins said.

“There were some questions about the details in the resolution, so I'll follow up to see if there is anything inaccurate in the resolution,” Heggins said.

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