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In November of 1900, Preston "John" Porter Jr., a fifteen-year-old Black teenager, weighing 105 pounds, was lynched by burning just outside of Limon, Colorado, in Lincoln County. He was arrested, interrogated, and tortured in Denver in order to coerce a confession. Then, even though it was widely known that he would be lynched if he was returned to Lincoln County, Denver officials sent him by train to Lincoln County on the morning of November 16th. 

The Equal Justice Initiative, in Montgomery Alabama, through its Community Remembrance Project, works to memorialize all documented lynchings in the US from 1865-1950. The lynchings of 6,500 Black people have been verified and thousands, more lynchings have yet to be documented.  

In 2018 the Colorado Community Remembrance Project (Denver-Limon Coalition) was formed to remember the lynching of Preston Porter Jr. soil from the site of the old city hall in Denver, where he was held and tortured. The project gathered soil from near where he was burned to death near the railroad tracks about a mile east of Limon. The goal is to erect historical markers both in Denver and in Limon, to remember the murder of Preston Porter Jr. 

Photo by Dave Russell @ Buffalo Heart Images 

"Scholarly and public narrative tells us that lynchings happened for many reasons and for no reason. Besides allegations of sexual assault, justifications for lynching Black men documented by the NAACP and historian John Hope Franklin, in 30 years of lynching in the United States were, bumping into a White girl while running to catch a train, knocking on the door of a White woman's home, arguing with a White man, suing a White man, calling a police officer by his name instead of referring to him as Mr. Lynchings involved torture including burning victims alive, drowning, stoning, beating, or multiple tortures at once. Sometimes when a person had already been murdered. Violent overkill. Black women were lynched, Black children were lynched. Markers and statues dot this entire country, courtyards and highways everywhere, with statues to confederate veterans but until recently there were few markers for the victims of racial terror and police overreach, and official violence. All of those things remain with us. We cannot mourn or memorialize Preston Porter Jr., but fail to mourn and memorialize, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Philando Castille, when we say his name, we must say their names. Say their names. Racism, hate, White supremacy, White frigility, White jealousy, all of those things remain threats that hang over all Black people even today. Even those with money, with education, with titles, with positions and those without, can be killed by the police for any reason, for a traphic stop, for selling CD's, for selling cigarettes, shot to death, choked to death, tazered to death, driven to death, standing still, fleeing, shot in the chest, shot in the back, hands up, hands down, point blank range or at a distance. Less than 1% of who were involved in lynch mobs were ever brought to justice at the hands of persons unknown, continues today. We remain the only so called first world country which kills its own people. Strange fruit. Here is fruit for the crows to pluck, for the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, for the sun to rot, for the trees to drop. Here is a strange and bitter cry."

 

- Rosemary Lytle, NAACP President for Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming 

Addresses the attendees of the Soil Collection Ceremony

Photo by Dave Russell @ Buffalo Heart Images 

"We are now coming together, centering ourselfves in a place of hope, in a place of transformation, in a place of liberation. A place of sharing a story so now our brother can rest. A place, a moment where now his blood no longer needs to cry from the ground, because now we are speaking his name and we are honoring him and his family, and the person that he represents for the countless people that were lynched physically, mentally, metaphorically, emotionally, to this day. So we honor you for being here today, we honor those leaders that looked beyond their own hurt and their own passions and compassions and decided to come together in this profound moment to move us together, toward love, peace, justice, and liberation. 

An African tradition, religions and spirituality we close centering moments like this with the word "Ashe." Ashe means speaking it into life, it is so, I agree. So if you would be so compassionate, and loving, and justice filled to join me in this centering moment with the word Ashe."

 

-Rev. Tawana Davis, founder of Soul 2 Soul Sisters 

Gives the opening speech at the Soil Collection Ceremony  

"One of the things that connects us in addition to the land and the dirt and if you have a chance to go there (referring to the Peace and Justice Museum in Montgomery, Alabama) you'll see that one of the things that connects us is Black women. So this baby came to us from a Black woman and in Montgomery the messages of Black women who teach us, who lead us like our sister who opened (referring to Tawana Davis who opened our ceremony) it's all through the memorial, all through the museum. And on two Mondays ago we had the opportunity at the Denver City Council, which is the place, where city elected officials saw fit to send this baby to his death. I'm not minimizing that he is 16 and a young man, but he's a baby, he's a baby to me. And we had a chance to stand in this chamber and to have, presented to us a proclamation from the Denver City Council, and words matter, and we had an opportunity to engage those there in the words that were gonna ask you to join us in now. And it's connected to the woman that he came from, the woman that he didn't live to father, who knows right, who knows. And so it's a call and response. Our sister mentioned that African tradition and its one that has stayed with us in the Black church, and if your from the south the White churches too. Call and response, and so I'm gonna say this and you just give it back to me with all that you have. For Preston, to Preston, dear Preston. 

It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains. We have nothing to lose but our chains. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

-Elisabeth Epps, founder of Colorado Freedom Fund. Gives the closing speech at the Soil Collection Ceremony 

Photo by Dave Russell @ Buffalo Heart Images 

"We have too long been unaware of, and or ignored those who have suffered in this torturous manner. I'm a long time resident of the Denver Metro area and in spite of learning a lot and studying a lot, about lynching in the south, I am woefully ignorant of the lynchings that took place in my beloved state. Also, I'm a mother and I'm a grandmother and as such, I have long been painfully aware of how African Americans can be killed and injured by those who have sworn to protect and to serve. We have a new form of lynching, and unless we are aware of our horrendous past, we are bound to repeat and to continue these acts into the future. Maybe, by beginning with the support of our local officials, we can begin the long journey toward awareness, then maybe someday, these horrible practices will become a thing of the past. Thank you for becoming a part of this cause."

-Pennie Goodman, with the Episcopal Church of Denver and a member of the Denver/Limon Coalition. Giving her speech at the Denver City Council Proclamation 

Jovan Mays reads his Poem "To Preston" at the Soil Collection Ceremony

Watch the ceremony in its entirety

Denver Public Schools Essay Contest 

Winners of the Davidson County, Tennessee, Racial Justice Essay contest with EJI staff in June 2019. Photo from EJI.org
For DPS High School Students
Aug 31, 2020 - January 10, 2021
Scholarship funds awarded to winners
More details coming soon 

Denver City Council Proclamation

Watch a full recording of the Proclamation, and read the Proclamation in its entirety   
Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative

ABOUT US >

The Colorado Community Remembrance Project is a community-based, volunteer-run, nonprofit organization working to promote racial justice and racial reconciliation in our state by documenting the history of racial terror lynching, advocating for full acknowledgment of these murders, and ensuring that those whose lives were taken in these brutal campaigns are remembered with honor and dignity.

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