Remembering George Meadows: The African American Man Lynched Under False Allegations of Rape and Murder in 1889

Lynched on January 15, 1889, in Jefferson County, Alabama, Meadows became a victim of a society plagued by racism, false accusations, and mob justice.

The events leading to Meadows’s lynching began on January 14, 1889, when a white woman reported that she had been raped and her son killed by an African American man. Amidst the frenzy of racial tension, over 400 white coal miners took matters into their own hands, forming groups and rounding up several black men. Although the woman was unable to positively identify any of the accused, the mob hastily concluded that Meadows, a newcomer to the area, was the perpetrator.

Despite the woman’s pleas for mercy, as she was unsure if he was the perpetrator, the mob proceeded with the lynching and hanged him near the Pratt Mines. After his death, his body was shot multiple times, photographed while hanging, and distributed. Subsequently, his body was taken to an undertaker and publicly displayed for crowds to view.

Remembering George Meadows: The African American Man Lynched Under False Allegations of Rape and Murder in 1889

The injustice inflicted upon Meadows became even clearer when, on January 16, the sheriff determined that Meadows was not the actual perpetrator of the crime and arrested another African American man, Lewis Jackson.

George Meadows was laid to rest in a pauper’s grave at the old Red Mountain Cemetery. Today, much of that area has been converted into Lane Park, which is now the site of the Birmingham Zoo and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Selected Sources

https://www.al.com/opinion/2020/01/on-this-day-in-1889-george-meadows-was-lynched.html?outputType=amp

https://birminghamwatch.org/george-meadows-jan-15-1889-birmingham-near-pratt-mines/

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