On July 25, 1946, four young African Americans—George & Mae Murray Dorsey and Roger & Dorothy Malcom—were shot hundreds of times by 12 to 15 unmasked white men in broad daylight at the Moore's Ford bridge spanning the Apalachee River, 60 miles east of Atlanta, Georgia. These killings, for which no one was ever prosecuted, enraged President Harry Truman and led to historic changes, but were quickly forgotten in Oconee and Walton Counties where they occurred. No one was ever brought to justice for the crime.
One of the women was pregnant. The murderers cut the fetus from her womb.
The immediate spark for the lynching was the accusation that one of the men had stabbed a white man:
In mid-July, 1946, Roger Malcolm** and a white farmer, Barney Hester, got into an argument. Hester suffered stab wounds and was taken to a hospital. Malcolm was arrested and taken to the jail in Monroe, the county seat of Walton County. The Black community immediately feared for Malcolm’s life. The Hester family ranked among the most powerful and it was unlikely that such an act of defiance would not be met with a harsh response.Harrison said he was taking them home. Instead, he took them to the Moore's Ford Bridge where they were murdered.
The next day, segregationist Gov. Eugene Talmadge*** running for his third tern as Georgia’s top elected official campaigned in Monroe and delivered a racist tirade, pledging that under his watch, the social status quo of white supremacy would be maintained. He met with the injured man’s brother, George Hester, and is reported to have offered immunity to anyone “taking care of the Negro.”On July 25, Loy Harrison, the landowner for whom Roger Malcolm and George Dorsey worked, came to the jail and paid the $600 to bail Malcolm out.
Many of the articles I read note how people, particularly Robert Howard, tried to keep the case in the public eye (including an annual march on the bridge)--or, at least, on law enforcement's radar--but no one would come forward. At least, not until Clinton Adams recounted what he'd seen that day at the bridge as a scared ten-year-old hiding in the bushes.
And now, finally, a GBI spokesperson says, "The FBI and GBI had gotten some information that we couldn't ignore with respect to this case."
In a written statement, the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said they collected several items on a property in rural Walton County, Georgia, that were taken in for further investigation.I hope the results will lead to some measure of justice for the Malcoms and Dorseys and their families.
*The case seems to have been reopened around 2000.
**I've seen the name spelled Malcom and Malcolm. I think the first is correct, but I didn't correct the sources I quoted.
***I read about Talmadge in Michelle Brattain's The Politics of Whiteness. To say he was a slimy character would be an understatement.