Leaders unveil state historical marker to remember lynching in Waco

KWTX News 10 at 10P
Published: Feb. 12, 2023 at 9:19 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - More than 100 years after the lynching of a Black man in Waco local leaders want to make sure the community never forgets his name. On Saturday afternoon city officials and racial justice leaders unveiled a state historical marker to remember Jesse Washington.

Hundreds of people from all over Texas gathered for the unveiling of the new marker honoring Washington, among them Washington’s family, including his cousin Mary Pierson.

“I figured there weren’t going to be very many people, because they were getting ready for the Super Bowl,” Pierson said. “This is just a joy to see what’s going on.”

In 1916 Washington was just 17-years-old when a McLennan County jury gave him a death sentence for killing a white woman. Immediately after that sentence – protestors grabbed Washington and hanged, tortured, burned and mutilated his body in front of 10,000 people, including children.

“We had to go through a lot of steps to get here, but thanks to the mercy of God when he said it’s going to be done, it’s going to be done,” Pierson said.

The journey to get to the point began on the 100 year anniversary on the lynching. That’s when a local organization called the Community Race Relations Coalition along with the Waco NAACP began the push for getting a state historical marker.

“I think that we should commend the community of McLennan County and Waco for the work done to get to this moment,” Waco NAACP President Peaches Henry said.

Pierson said now that her cousin’s story will live on forever in front of city hall the marker could be a catalyst for change.

“I think there could be a change,” Pierson said. “We still got a long way to go. We haven’t made it yet, a lot has to change. On this day I think the change will start.”