Tuesday, October 27, 2015

July 25, 1946: Roger and Dorothy Malcolm, George and May Dorsey

Today we learn about a Georgia lynching from The Gazette and Daily (York, Pennsylvania) dated July 29, 1946. The article is an unusual one in that it is written in the first person. It is, however, the most thorough article I found on the lynching:

Writer Terms Georgia Lynching Fruit of Talmadge's Election

(Special to The Gazette and Daily)


Monroe, Ga., July 28.—I have just seen the first proof of Eugene Talmadge's election as Governor of Georgia. I saw it in the basement of Dan Young's funeral parlor (for colored) here in Monroe.

An embalmer was sewing up bullet holes in one of the girls, Dorothy Malcolm. He had already done his best to patch up the rifle and pistol holes in the other girl and the two fellows lynched here Thursday night.

But nothing in the undertaker's art could put back the faces of Roger Malcolm or May Dorsey.

Shotgun shells fired point blank don't leave much face.

Their deaths or the death of some other Georgia Negro by lynch mob violence was inevitable.

When the votes were counted in the July 17 primary, and the minority candidate Talmadge was declared the Democratic nominee, the season on "niggers" was automatically opened, and every pinheaded Georgia cracker and bigoted Ku Kluxer figured he had a hunting license.

I don't know whether the murderers of Roger Malcolm and George Dorsey and their wives will ever be brought to trial.

I doubt it.

But in two hours in this town I've picked up enough clues as to the identity of the leader of the lynch mob and at least one of his henchmen that it would seem child's play for anyone with authority to have the guilty ones within 24 hours.

I intend to put those clues before the the chief of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; but, as I say, I don't know if it will do any good.

This is Georgia.

This morning in Washington Atty. Gen. Tom Clark said he was ordering a full investigation of the lynching. At 7 p. m. the F. B. I. hadn't shown up. two assistant United States attorneys dropped in from Macon and chatted with the Sheriff for an hour or so this afternoon, and then said they didn't think there had been a violation of any Federal law. They didn't think Civil rights statute would apply.

Planned Murder

(I wonder if it would comfort what is left of those four young Negroes, lying naked on slabs in the basement of Dan Young's funeral parlor, to know that their civil rights had not been violated when they were jerked from an automobile by a mob of 25 or 30 men, taken down to a river bottom, lined up and riddled with rifle and pistol bullets and shotgun shells?)

This was no spontaneous uprising of race hatred. It was a carefully organized mass murder, timed to the second, carried out with storm trooper efficiency. Here is the sequence of events:

On Sunday, July 14, Roger Malcolm, an uneducated Negro farmhand in his twenties, who worked on the farm of one Barney Hester in this cotton and corn section 40 miles east of Atlanta, got into a fight with his wife. He had been drinking.

The official story is that Dorothy Malcolm, Roger's wife, ran to the Hester house and appealed for help. The official story is, further, that Hester merely told Malcolm to calm down and quit causing trouble, whereupon Malcolm pulled out a knife and stabbed him.

The true story, as nearly as I can make it out, is that Hester started beating Malcolm first. But at any rate Hester was stabbed.

Malcolm was quickly caught and a mob gathered. They bound Malcolm with rope and there was talk of lynching him. But a white woman who had known him from childhood called the Sheriff. Sheriff E. S. Gordon and two deputies arrived in time and Malcolm was taken to Monroe jail.

Then Talmadge

Three days later Talmadge was nominated—purely, simply and solely on the issue of keeping the Negro "in his place." This county voted for Talmadge. The farm section around "Hestertown" voted overwhelmingly for Talmadge—and Hestertown's Negroes didn't vote.

With Talmadge's victory the threats to "get" Malcolm crescendoed. There was so much talk of lynching him that his relatives thought a week ago that he had already been killed.

Yesterday, Loy Harrison, a well-to-do farmer for whom Malcolm's sister-in-law and her husband worked, drove into town to bail Malcolm out of jail.

Dorsey, recently out of the Army, his wife, Mrs. Malcolm's sister, and Mrs. Malcolm came along.

They arrived at the courthouse at about 2 o'clock and by 2:10 the bond of $600 had been posted and the papers all signed to get Malcolm out. It was an extremely low bond—the charge was assault with attempt to commit murder—and Hester was still in the hospital, not yet out of danger.

For some reason not yet explained, Malcolm was not released immediately. Harrison went to get his car fixed and the women went shopping. They came back at 5 o'clock, got Malcolm and started in Harrison's car for his farm some ten miles away.

The rest of the story is as Harrison related it to the Coroner's inquest last night a few hours after the murders and again to officers.

When the mob told Harrison to beat it after the murders, he drove to the nearest store and called the Sheriff.

The Sheriff sent some deputies and the coroner out but didn't go himself.

A drumhead inquest was held on the spot.

Harrison was the only one to testify. He said he hadn't recognized any one. The jury promptly brought in its verdict—"death by gunshot wounds from person or persons unknown."

"I'm ashamed to be a Georgian" is an expression I've heard more than once.

Rev. J. C. Ingram preaches funeral services for George Dorsey, ex-serviceman, and his sister, Mrs. roger Malcolm, two of four Negroes lynched at Monroe, Ga., by a mob of 20 or more armed white men. The flag draped coffin is Dorsey's.

NEA Telephoto

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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