September 25-26, 2021
On September 25 and 26, Montgomery History, the Montgomery County Lynching Memorial Project, and the Montgomery County Remembrance and Reconciliation Commission held a Remembrance Weekend recognizing two men who were the victims of racial terror lynchings in Montgomery County: Mr. John Diggs-Dorsey and Mr. Sidney Randolph.
Saturday, September 25
“Unwritten Law”: A Symposium on the Lynchings in Rockville
Hosted by Montgomery History
Watch the video from the Saturday, September 25 symposium, now available:
Three Montgomery County historians provide accounts of the lynchings of Mr. John Diggs-Dorsey (d. 1880) and Mr. Sidney Randolph (d. 1896). This historical analysis will provide background on the economic, social, and political context of Montgomery County in the final decades of the 19th century and explore how elements of these murders were replicated in other parts of Maryland and the United States.
Part 1: Retrospective on Race in Post-Civil War Montgomery County, Ralph Buglass
Local historian Ralph Buglass sets the stage by putting into context the county’s racial climate at the time of the lynchings. In the decades after the Civil War, the Black population lived in an increasingly segregated society. They established mutually-supportive communities, working mainly as farm hands, manual laborers, and domestics, while their children attended separate, ill-equipped schools. Black residents were not denied the right to vote, but they lived precariously amidst a political climate in Montgomery County that was little changed from the war when Southern sympathies were strong.
Part 2: Two Rockville Lynchings: The Truth Uncovered, Sarah Hedlund
Archivist and researcher Sarah Hedlund narrates the history of the two lynchings that occurred in Rockville: John Diggs-Dorsey in 1880 and Sidney Randolph in 1896, based on a careful reading of hundreds of newspaper reports and supplemented with genealogical research, detailed maps, photographs, and archival documents. Interspersed with a local history context, this talk outlines the most complete and up-to-date accounts of these tragic events that took place in Montgomery County’s history near the end of the 19th century.
Part 3: Anatomy of a Lynching, Anthony Cohen
Anatomy of a Lynching explores the racist mob killings of three black men in 19th century Montgomery County and exposes the motives and methodologies used to commit these crimes against humanity. Historian Anthony Cohen rates and measures the severity of the George Peck, John Diggs-Dorsey and Sydney Randolph lynchings, placing them against the most notorious national cases of the Jim Crow era. Anatomy of a Lynching reveals the common “playbook” used by seemingly disparate communities nationwide and shows how legal systems conspired to support and promote these formidable acts of racial terror injustice.
Sunday, September 26
Hosted by Montgomery County Lynching Memorial Project (MoCoLMP) and the County’s Remembrance and Reconciliation Commission
Remembrance Pilgrimage Walk
The walk began at the site of the old county jail where Mr. Diggs-Dorsey and Mr. Randolph were both held, the walk passes locations that were then central to a vibrant African-American community, including the sites where the men were lynched.
Soil Collection Ceremony
The ceremony honored the memories of Mr. John Diggs-Dorsey and Mr. Sidney Randolph with a soil collection, music, and reflections by community leaders and by a representative of the Equal Justice Initiative from Montgomery, Alabama.
For questions about the Remembrance Walk or Soil Collection Ceremony please contact MoCoLMP.
Understanding how acts of racial terror unfolded is an essential act of remembrance. Uncovering the roots of those acts is necessary in order to begin the journey toward reconciliation.