Taylor community remembers 1933 lynching victim

Faith and forgiveness are things that keep the family of Caldwell Washington hopeful.

Those virtues are things they've relied on since his death in 1933.

“I would love to have known him, and I didn't get that opportunity to do so,” said Johnnye Mae Washington-Patteron, Washington’s daughter.

Washington was a 23-year-old African-American man, living in Taylor. One day he disappeared from his job after a dispute with a white co-worker.

Two months later, his decomposing body was found hanging from a tree.



“The official report was death by suicide...which of course was called into question over Mr. Washington's hands being bound behind him and found eight miles away from his home,” said Brandt Rydell, Mayor of Taylor.

In addition, his wife said he had no indication he would want to kill himself.

“When she saw him hanging from the tree she knew then it wasn't suicide,” said Washington-Patterson.

“That was not a unique situation to Taylor during that era in American history. A lot of these lynchings were explained by suicide or other manners,” said Rydell.

Attendees of a ceremony at Allen Chapel AME Church filled a jar with soil from his presumed lynching site. The jar will be placed inside the legacy museum in Montgomery, Alabama, which documents nationwide lynching victims.

“There are these events in our past that we're not proud of as a community. We need to talk about it, we need to recognize this is part of our history,” said Rydell.

Washington-Patterson says racism is still alive, but maybe her father's story can open minds and hearts. She has already forgiven the people who killed him.

“We were always taught to forgive and that's all I knew to do,” said she said.

“It's important to remember the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, we can't combat these forces with similar forces, we can't fight hate with hate,” said Rydell.