I am writing on behalf of myself, a descendant of Gwynn’s Islanders back to the 17th century, and of a group of Black descendants of Gwynn’s Island who have been meeting for more than a year on the historic marker, “Black Exodus from Gwynn’s Island.”
Some claim that the “near-lynching” of James Smith cannot be proven; however, John Dixon’s book, “The Black Americans of Gwynn’s Island,” reports that when Smith fled the Hudgins-Mitchem store, only the quick actions of Herbert F. Grimstead prevented further violence. Grimstead averted a lynching by holding a shotgun on the mob and insisting the Sheriff handle the matter. We also found three oral histories, two White and one Black, that claimed that Black families were threatened with personal violence if they did not leave the Island. These were not isolated incidents—a Black man accused of murder in Mathews was almost lynched in 1922 according to the Associated Press. White men intervened so that due proce...
To view the rest of this article, you must log in. If you do not have an account with us, please subscribe here.