The Palm Beach County Community Remembrance Project Coalition envisions opportunities in Palm Beach County for people to come together and discuss our history. We hope that educators, officials (elected and appointed), and community members will participate.
As a coalition, we commit to:
- Narrative Truth-Telling, defined as facilitating a deeper understanding of the era of racial terrorism.
- Trauma-Informed Approach, defined as prioritizing the voices of those closest to the individuals being memorialized, while recognizing the trauma inflicted on the community as a result of racial terror lynching.
- Collaboration, defined as consistently making space for your strength and my strength to become our collective strength.
- Listening with Respect, defined as paying attention to what is and what is not being said.
- Just Kindness, defined as consistently acting and speaking from a place of goodwill toward others.
- Open Communication, defined as sharing any information that is relevant to the work.
- Self-Awareness, defined as reflecting often on whether your own participation is advancing the work.
- Commitment, defined as committing to a long-term engagement with this work.
Palm Beach County accounts for at least two of the more than 4400 lynchings of Black citizens in the United States that were part of a regime of racial terror flourishing long after Reconstruction. The legacy of this terror continues today in a resurgent white supremacist movement aimed at fomenting a "race war" that would eliminate our Black population. To address this means to confront the sins of our past and use their very gravity to combat lingering hostility.
EJI describes the process of claiming the Monument as a "culminating feature of that community work and dialogue" that advances truth and justice by confronting history in a way most communities have never done. EJI encourages the County to work with a community coalition referred to as a Community Remembrance Project Coalition. Working collaboratively with the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners, a group of dedicated community partners is coordinating the Palm Beach County Community Remembrance Project. This group is comprised of community organizations, community advocates, local entrepreneurs and concerned citizens and so far includes:
Assistant County Administrator serves as BCC staff liaison
Converge & Associates Consulting
Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County
Martin Luther King Coordinating Committee
S. D. Spady Cultural Heritage Museum
Edna W. Runner Tutorial Center
Charles Hagy, Jr.
Head of Middle School at The Benjamin School
PBC Parks and Recreation Assistant Director
PBC Director of Youth Services
The Coalition has been meeting monthly since June 2020 and has conducted extensive research and compiled numerous newspaper articles and other research material to support the lynchings of Mr. Simmons and Mr. Nelson in Palm Beach County.
County Administration submitted a National Memorial for Peace and Justice Monument Retrieval Interest Form to EJI in July 2019 and began engaging with community advocates. The Coalition is continuing to work with the nationally recognized Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama, and its Founder, Bryan Stevenson. According to that organization's website, EJI believes that publicly confronting the truth about our history is the first step towards recovery and reconciliation. A history of racial injustice must be acknowledged, and mass atrocities and abuse must be recognized and remembered, before a society can recover from mass violence. Public commemoration plays a significant role in prompting community-wide reconciliation."
Below is a September 23, 2020 communication from EJI indicating the process going forward: It sounds like you all have been doing a great deal of independent research and that's wonderful! As part of EJI's Community Remembrance Project, [eji.org] we work with community members who are interested in building broad community-based coalitions to advance these educational and memorialization efforts within their community. Once we have an opportunity to connect with community members through our CRP efforts, we work collaboratively with the coalition to research each victim's story, identify potential locations for the soil collection, facilitate community education opportunities, and to plan a meaningful ceremony based on the community's interests. At this time, we are in the process of updating our CRP materials and should have them ready to share in a couple of weeks. When they are complete, I would be happy to share them with you so that we can continue the conversation about how EJI can support the work that you all are doing in your community.
Once we enter into an official working relationship, our team will work with the community to determine the ideal location for the soil collection based on the information available from the research. We have had soil collections that have collected soil from multiple sites connected to the lynching or that reference multiple locations and collect at one specific site. There's flexibility. As part of the working relationship with EJI, we would supply the glass jars that you've seen in our exhibits. We also are able to make duplicate jars available if a community is interested in a local exhibit. All of these logistical questions are addressed in the facilitation process."
The Education Sub-committee is developing a year-long County-wide educational and awareness program to be launched in the Summer of 2021. On April 8, 2021 EJI invited the Coalition to move to the next step of submitting an Expression of interest and other materials to begin exploring moving the project forward. Expression of interest submitted to EJI on May 25th.
On July 7, 2021 EJI approved PBC Expression of Interest and partnership to move this project forward into the Orientation Phase. EJI also assigned two of their staff members (Kiara Boone and Elliot Spillers) to work with PBC Coalition.
On July 22, 2021 EJI liaison, Kiara Boone, met with the Coalition to review the PBC Community Remembrance Project Coalition Agreement and the draft Community Education and Engagement Plan.
Artist's Statement (Logo)
The logo depicts four individuals in various shades, representing diversity. The centers of the individuals come together, showing a common source and reinforcing unity and love for each other. The individuals are raising their hands, reflecting hopefulness and spreading awareness. Together, they form a symbol reminiscent of a flower, honoring the past but also communicating hope, healing, and beauty.
Artist: Kimberly Krieger, Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department.