Good morning. My name is Rev Frank Drenner, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Sherman. I support the effort to establish a historical marker on the Grayson County Courthouse grounds commemorating the lynching of George Hughes, the burning of the courthouse where he awaited trial, and the subsequent destruction of Black-owned businesses and homes nearly a century ago.
Dr James Cone, in his classic book The Cross and the Lynching Tree, draws a connection between crucifixion, the death sentence imposed upon Jesus, and lynching:
Both the cross and the lynching tree were symbols of terror, instruments of torture and execution...Both Jesus and Blacks were publicly humiliated, subjected to the utmost indignity and cruelty. In both cases, the purpose was to the strike terror in the subject community.
For nearly a century, a seditious effort has existed to keep the events of 1930 silent, forgotten, and ignored. As a result, many long-time residents of Grayson County are shocked to learn this story. For those who are painfully aware of these events, the refusal to confront this history is a source of great trauma. This, of course, is one of the goals of lynching. Silence and inaction inflict violence as well. In the Book of Genesis, God confronts Cain after the murder of his brother Abel; Cain is dismissive, asking the haunting question, “How should I know? Am I my brother’s guardian?” God keeps the pressure on Cain: “What did you do? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” As painful as the Cain and Abel story is, it has been told for millennia so that people would appreciate the value of human life and that God alone has ultimate power over it. One of the lessons of the story, beyond the horror of violence, is that yes, we are meant to be guardians of each other. We are guardians of the events of 1930. Sharing the story, rather than keeping it silent, allows the horror and violence to be redeemed. As County Judge and County Commissioners, you have the ability to move this effort forward. Allow the historical marker to be placed at the Grayson County Courthouse, where these terrible, long lasting events occurred. The voice of the blood of George Hughes calls to us from these grounds. It is time to listen and act. Thank you.
Earlier this year, Grace UMC established the George Hughes Memorial Scholarship fund. To learn more about the scholarship, click here. To contribute to the fund, click here. To watch a video we produced telling the story of the events of May 1930, click below.