March 18, 2021

Act of Terrorism in Grayson County

By Glenn

Studying history shouldn’t take a profile in courage.  Too many people want history to be a safe space for ancestor worship.

History is part of the humanities.  We study humans.  Humans can be beautiful.  They can be ugly.  We should try to replicate the beauty and avoid the ugly.

We can’t do either if we sweep things under the rug.  For too long Grayson County has swept an ugly part of its history under the rug.

In May of 1930 a white woman accused a black man of rape.  The man was George Hughes.  Sheriff Arthur Vaughan arrested Hughes and held him for trial.

In America, the government must prove an accusation in court.  Every American has a constitutional right to a jury of his peers.  This is an essential part of Due Process.

Rumors had began circulating about the rape, and a mob gathered outside the Court House.  They demanded blood.  Like many white mobs at the time, they didn’t want to wait for Due Process. Due Process was too slow. (See also White Supremacist Massacres)

The Sheriff, the Texas Rangers and the National Guard tried to maintained order for the trial.  The white mob persisted.  They broke into the Court House, ignoring both warning shots and tear gas.

With the Judge, Jury and members of the public in the Court Room, someone in the mob set fire to the Court House.  To make matters worse the mob attacked the fire fighters who unsuccessfully battled the blaze.

The accused, George Hughes, was trapped inside the Court House vault where he died. 

Not satisfied, the white mob dragged the body of George Hughes behind a car to the African American side of town.  The mob then hung Hughes and set his body ablaze.

The mob then turned their attention to their African American neighbors, burning black owned businesses and residences.  This act of terrorism sent a message to every resident of Grayson County.

Melissa Thiel, a current resident of Grayson, has asked the County Commissioners to place a historical marker outside the new Court House.  Thiel has spent the last year gathering records of the lynching. 

The record is clear.  A mob of over 5,000 terrorized the African American residents of Grayson Country.  The mob violated the law and ignored the Constitution of the United States of America.

Will County Judge Bill Magers and County commissioners Bart Lawrence, David Whitlock, Phillis James and Jeff Whitmire be brave enough to learn real history?  Or will they cower in fear of terrorism?

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