Community members are invited to gather and take part in the George Johnson Memorial Walk and Community Soil Collection event as part of the Atchison Juneteenth Celebration weekend sponsored by Atchison United on Friday, June 11. A memorial dedication is set to follow Saturday, June 19.
George Johnson is the black man who was lynched by a mob of about 50 white men Jan. 4, 1870, after he had turned himself into authorities for injuring Patrick Cox, a white man, as the result of a hunting accident according to newspaper accounts as researched by Dr. Joshua Wolf, Benedictine College history professor. Cox subsequently made a full recovery. However, within the five days preceding the lynching rumors had spread that Cox was murdered. Vigilante aggressors proceeded to overtake a jailer in the former jailhouse that was located at Sixth and Santa Fe streets in Atchison and carried Johnson from the jail with the intent to hang him. Johnson was beaten and shot multiple times by the mob he was taken to a viaduct in the vicinity of Fifth and Commercial streets where he was hanged.
United Atchison President Sean Crittendon explained the Memorial Walk will re-trace the George Johnson’s final steps. The walk will start at 7 p.m. at Sixth and Santa Fe streets. Walkers will proceed to the Fifth Street Viaduct. Along the way soil samples will be collected from various areas along the route. Starting at Sixth and Santa Fe streets; Fourth and Commercial streets; at the Fifth Street viaduct entrance where walkers will observe a moment of silence; and a soil collection will take place beneath the viaduct. The collected soil is destined for delivery to the Equal Justice Initiative Museum and Legacy Museum located in Montgomery, Alabama. At the viaduct local leaders will present readings and the group will pray for social justice.
The public is also invited to attend a historical marker memorial dedication will take place the following weekend at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 19 at the art square located near the viaduct in near the 400 and 500 blocks of Commercial Street hosted by Atchison United and the Atchison Art Association.
For more information about the walk, memorial dedication and the GeorgeJohnsonRemembrance Project check out the Atchison United, and Atchison Juneteenth and #georgejohnsonrembranceproject on Facebook.