On March 16, 1997 Peter Scott, staff writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wrote a small, yet compelling story entitled "NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN". What makes this story so compelling, especially for the African-American families of Montgomery County, Georgia, is how it touches on the life and documents the reason for the death of one of our best -- The Honorable Simon Shelton Mincey. Furthermore, it gives us more than an idea of when the observerance of "The First Monday in August" started, but why it started, and whom this memorial was centered around. This is the article, as printed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1997, by Peter Scott. Part 1 of 3
NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN
A chronicle is kept at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama. Each name and number therein reflects a lynching.
By the time 13-year old Solomon Calvin Curry awoke in the night's heat of July 29, 1930, in Montgomery County, GA, at least 4,000 blacks had been lynched nationwide, according to the Tuskegee list. Curry witnessed yet another. His grandfather, Simon Shelton Mincey, was dragged from his bed by Klansmen and beaten to death. Curry watched in horror until the intruders in white knocked him unconscious. Today there are few surviving witnesses of lynchings, according to researchers and historians. There are even fewer willing to speak publicly about what they saw. Curry, who lives in Miami, is willing because he says his grandfather's story is worth telling and his grandfather is worth remembering.
Solomon Calvin Curry did not know what to make of the room full of people who came into his home the night of July 29, 1930.
"I saw all those robes and hoods. The room was full of them. They were in the hall and outside on the porch. I thought I was having a nightmare", said Curry, now 79. Within minutes, the men dragged his grandfather, Montgomery County Republican Party chairman Simon Shelton Mincey, from his bed and cracked his skull. Curry, then 13, was knocked unconscious and left for dead. The mob took Mincey to Grays Landing, about 10 miles outside of town, and beat and kicked him so hard his flesh was peeled.
Mincey later died that afternoon from his wounds. There were statewide and nationwide protests involving whites and blacks. No one was ever apprehended. Now, nearly 67 years later, Mincey is not only a sign of the heavy price African-Americans paid for success and respectability in rural Georgia but also of how many like him often get passing references, or no mention at all, in the history pages.
Mincey was among a small cadre of southern, African-American Republicans who fought for inclusion into America's political system.
At a time when African-Americans could have caved in to political pressure from President Herbert Hoover and other Republicans who wanted them out, Mincey stood firm. "Mincey is just one of hundreds of men and women who died for causes concerning the progress of their communities. Their stories have often died with them," said historian Herman Skip Mason, head of the Atlanta research firm Digging It Up. He said Curry's public revelation of the Klan attack is rare because other survivors have let fear silence them.
Some historians express concern that much of the current emphasis on black history is from the 1960s forward.
"Many people today assume the struggle for human and civil rights was simply a bunch of marches that shamed whites into changing laws, but the struggle was waged against tremendous violence," said Fitzhugh Brundage, a visiting history professor at Agnes Scott College and author of "Lynchings in the New South: Virginia and Georgia."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; March 16, 1997
Section: DIXIE LIVING
Edition: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Staff Writer: Peter Scott