A Ground of Sorrow

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For over a year, Troup Together has been seeking records, reports, stories and memories related to the lynching of Austin Callaway in LaGrange in September 1940.  We have been building a storehouse of information on this crime and this period in the life of Troup County and the region.  The written records tell us much of the story.  However, many questions remain.  For answers beyond the written word, we depend on the memories of the community.  Slowly, those have come too, as people have been willing to share with us what they know.  The recent official apology for the lynching spurred a number of people to come forward with new information about this crime.  For that, we are grateful.  We will continue to seek people with stories to tell.

Based on the new information, we now know the place where Austin Callaway was left to die.  We also know that a family in that area, at risk to themselves, sought to save his life.  The photo above is that place.  Today, we visited this ground for the first time.  Appropriately, it is the season of Lent, when confession and remembrance are on our minds, when we remember our own ‘grounding’ in the grief of the present world.  This ground in northwestern Troup County is a place of sorrow.  However, it is a place of hope too, for a family that lived nearby saw a bleeding stranger on this road, wrapped him up and cared for him as he died.  They did what they could.  We will share more of this story soon, including at the public memorial on March 18.  Today, though, we just pause to remember–with sorrow for the violence that took place on this ground but with gratitude too for a family that reached out to help a stranger.

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