Friday morning, new historic marker was placed on the Douglas County Courthouse lawn to memorialize George Smith

OMAHA, Nebraska – Decades prior to the lynching of Will Brown by an enraged white mob in Omaha, George Smith was murdered in the same manner.

Each was wrongly accused of doing crimes they did not commit.

Three years ago, a historical marker honoring Brown was put on the yard of the Douglas County Courthouse.

On Friday morning, a new marker for George Smith was placed on the courthouse yard, commemorating yet another terrible period in Omaha’s history.

George Smith was laid to rest in the Laurel Hill Cemetery. There are numerous such memorials commemorating the burial grounds of persons from the late 1800s.

Until Friday, when a historical marker was unveiled on the lawn of the Douglas County Courthouse to commemorate the October 1891 lynching of George Smith, commonly known as Joe Coe, there were no markers or monuments commemorating this heinous chapter of Omaha’s history.

Mayor Jean Stothert stated, “Today we are gathered to reflect on a historic day in the city of Omaha.” “Certainly not a day to be proud of in the history of our city, but we must acknowledge history, both the good and the bad.”

The memorial describes how difficult life was for George Smith in 1891.

Smith was slain after being unjustly accused of attacking and killing a young white girl who was still alive at the time. In the early hours of 10 October, an enraged white crowd disregarded law enforcement, stormed the courthouse, and dragged the defendant into its ranks.

They battered, kicked, and trampled Smith so brutally that he was already dead by the time his body was hung.

Smith was 20 years old, was married, and was the father of a child.

According to Eric Ewing of the Great Plains Black History Museum, the county coroner concluded that he died from fear. George Smith was never held accountable for his execution.

Smith was lynched more than thirty years before Will Brown, who was similarly slain. Currently, both markers line the lawn of the Douglas County Courthouse. Two memorials commemorating a dark era in Omaha’s history that, according to some, the United States has failed to learn from.

Dr. Cynthia Robinson, chair of the Department of Black Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, remarked, “For me, January 6 represented a potential lynching.” “Not Black people, but if they had been able to find anybody there, they would have lynched them.” This explains why George Smith and Will Brown were lynched by a mob that was partially assembled by those in authority.

This ceremony, according to its organizers, is not an attempt to assign guilt, but rather an opportunity for the city to reconcile the past.

“Historically, I believe Omaha has faced racial obstacles. With public schools, for example, and redlining, there have been a number of concerns, and it’s an opportunity for us to reiterate that this is wrong and that we must do better in the future, as stated by Rev. Michael Williams, president of the Omaha NAACP.

The Omaha Community Council for Racial Justice and Reconciliation spent years preparing for this ceremony and recognition.

In Montgomery, Alabama, the Equal Justice Initiative provided a marker commemorating George Smith and Will Brown.

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