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Frankfort lynching marker tells story of 'racial terrorism' that took place there

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Frankfort city officials issued formal apologies Saturday to the families of victims who were lynched at the city’s Singing Bridge more than a century ago.

The apologies were part of a larger ongoing effort to memorialize the more than 169 known cases of lynching in Kentucky between 1877 and 1950, according to the Frankfort-based nonprofit Focus on Race Relations.

But two Black citizens of Frankfort were the focus of the weekend remembrance ceremony – Marshall Boston and John Maxey – both of whom were victims of racial violence who were killed at Singing Bridge. Ed Powe with Focus on Racial Relations told WKYT about the incidents in 2019.

"That's where they took their last breaths. A white mob grabbed them, lynched them, shot them, and tossed their bodies into the river. And most people here in Frankfort know absolutely nothing about that."
Ed Powe, Focus on Racial Relations (source: WKYT)

The hope is that more people are becoming aware of that violent history in Kentucky’s capitol. Pastor Keith Felton with First Baptist Church in Frankfort spoke about the ceremony during his Sunday service.

"Lots of very important things happened yesterday right here in our midst," the pastor told his congregation, adding he believed "a lot of good" would come out of the ceremony.

Officials and community leaders hope the remembrance, which saw the unveiling of a marker acknowledging the site’s history, will lead to more frank discussions about race and the role racial divisions played and continue to play in society.

As the marker notes, it serves as a memorial not just to those who are known to have perished due to the violence but the many more whose names are lost to history.