Community Remembrance Project Comment
We the members of the Community Remembrance Project-MO (Kansas City) are deeply saddened by the brutal destruction of a sacred monument, the marker testifying to the lynching of Mr. Levi Harrington. The attack on the marker represents a violent denial of truth and the very right of Black communities and other communities of color to proclaim it. It is a hate crime. The individuals who took the time to saw through the metal pole, lift the heavy marker and throw it down the hill repeated the atrocity committed against Mr. Harrington. We mourn the horrific loss of Mr. Harrington, at the hands of an incited mob, and the mob like behavior that took away his story.
Missouri is home to at least 60 racial terror lynching’s that took place between 1865 and 1950. One of the key reasons behind erecting the marker was the need to tell Mr. Harrington’s story. The attack on the marker was an attempt to deny his story and denying the stories of a particular group of people is cultural genocide. Today, we as a community are finally beginning to listen when we hear the words “I can’t breathe.” For generations, however, these cries were ignored. The question remains—what will we do in the face of injustice? Will we turn our heads and ignore it or give this hate crime the attention it deserves?
The loss of the marker is not the end of the story. We will take down its bruised and battered frame and cherish it. We will resurrect the monument together. We will rebuild. We will come together as a community to rededicate the marker and voice our belief in truth. In this resurrection, we will all find life.
Our hope is that city officials, and the Kansas City Police Department would take this hate crime as seriously as the vandalism of the Andrew Jackson Statute. Two individuals were arrested the same day it was tagged with the graffiti “slave owner.” It has been a month since Mr. Harrington’s statue was attacked and we have no information on what happened. As a community, we should not be silent in the face of its destruction. Please come forward if you have any information. We seek to heal as a community and need everyone to take a role in objecting to this violent destruction.
We look forward to working with the Kansas City Parks & Rec Department, our national partners at the Equal Justice Initiative, and the Kansas City community to rededicate the site and double down on our effort to tell the truth in service of racial equity. As Dr. King stated, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” We must address the root and byproduct of racism, which for many years has grown unfettered, because too many people chose to do nothing.