The lynching of two married African-American couples, known in some circles as the “Lynching At Moore’s Ford Bridge,” took place in Northern Georgia on this day in 1946. An angry mob of White men attacked the couples, with one of the wives seven months pregnant and a man in the group an Army veteran of World War II.
George Dorsey, who had been back in the States just nine months after serving in the Pacific War, and his wife, Mae, worked as sharecroppers. Roger and Dorothy Malcolm also worked on the farm with the Dorseys and were expecting a child.
Mr. Malcolm was jailed 11 days prior to his death after stabbing a White farmer and was freed on bail. Loy Harrison, a farmer that the couples worked for, paid the bail himself.
When the attack happened, the couples were heading home on Moore’s Ford Bridge.
Harrison drove the Dorseys to the jail and was driving his employees back home, when the White mob pulled the couples from his truck and tied them to trees. According to Harrison’s account, which was reprinted in Time Magazine, the mob planned their attack under the orders of one man.
Loy Harrison on the attack:
A big man who was dressed mighty proud in a double-breasted brown suit was giving the orders. He pointed to Roger and said, ‘We want that N*gger.’ Then he pointed to George Dorsey, my N*gger, and said, ‘We want you, too, Charlie.’ I said, ‘His name ain’t Charlie, he’s George.’ Someone said ‘Keep your damned big mouth shut. This ain’t your party.
According to several accounts, it was rumored that Mr. Dorsey was having an affair with a White woman in town thus exacerbating the alleged motive for the attack.
Harrison watched on as the mob fired an estimated 60 bullets at the Dorseys and Malcolms as they were bound to the trees.
The case caught the attention of national media and made its way to the desk of President Harry Truman. Creating the President’s Commission on Civil Rights, Truman tried introducing anti-lynching legislation and the like to no avail as Southern voters maintained their racist and unlawful behavior.
The FBI was sent to the town of Monroe, but the investigation yielded little as no one stepped forward to offer assistance or testimony.
Even Harrison, who claimed he could not recognize any of the unmasked persons who performed the lynching, failed to cooperate with the federal officials.
“The best people in town won’t talk,” said Georgia State Patrol Maj. William Spence of the unsolved case in a 1946 quote.
Many suspects were named and subpoenaed but no one was ever charged; both White and Black residents, fearful of retaliation, kept mum.
After Georgia citizens created the Moore’s Ford Memorial Committee to heal any longstanding racial rifts and erect memorial markers for the event, it wasn’t until 2001 that then-Governor Roy Barnes officially reopened the case with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
By 2006, the FBI joined in the investigation, and in 2008, both bureaus collected material related to the case from area farms.
In a bizarre twist on the case that developed earlier this year, State Rep. Tyrone Brooks was indicted on charges of soliciting contributions to pay for personal expenses. In defense, Brooks claims the federal government is now coming after him because of his push to investigate the Moore’s Ford Bridge murders.
Despite the potential media circus that could mar the memory of the couples murdered at Moore’s Ford Bridge, the killings mark the divisive and dangerous times African Americans have had to endure just to survive.
Watch a re-enactment of the Moore’s Ford Bridge lynching here:
This moment serves as yet another one of the countless chilling reminders of the abject racism of the Deep South that still exists in small, but vocal pockets to this day.
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