Contesting Places, Spaces, and Stories
Edited By Ahmet Atay, Yea-Wen Chen and Alberto González
1. Communities of Memory, Coalition, and Race Trauma: The Moore’s Ford Lynching Reenactment
Pacific Lutheran University
A. SUSAN OWEN
University of Puget Sound
In recent years American communities have been compelled to confront their histories of race violence and race lynching.2 Situated within the tensions of remembrance and forgetting, the collective will to confront these pasts is fraught with challenge, and calls to confront the legacies of white-on-black race violence are often met with deep ambivalence. Some fear that commemoration will “produce nothing but anguish, grief, and a righteous, desperate rage that only risks fueling more violence.” Others worry that instead of producing “a reconciled future, memories of victimization” will only exacerbate “social division and conflict” (Simon, Rosenberg & Eppert, 2000, p. 1).
In this chapter, we examine one call to remembrance through the annual reenactment of the 1946 lynching of four African Americans in Walton County, Georgia.3 Our research at the Moore’s Ford Lynching Reenactment concerns one iteration by a coalition formed from two communities of memory—one white, cosmopolitan, financially secure, feminist, and religiously and politically progressive, and one black, rural, of modest economic means, and grounded in the conservative social mores of the patriarchal Southern black church. Communities of memory coalesce around particular relationships to enduring cultural trauma—in this case, trauma produced by a legacy of race lynching. While each community “occupies a distinctive historical relationship” to those traumas, “points of intersection” may support coalitional efforts in pursuit of common commitments (Owen & Ehrenhaus, 2010,...
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