After 91 years, it's time to remember

After 91 years, it's time to remember

May 21, 2021
Petition to
Grayson County Commissioners Court and
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                                                                                                                 09 May 2021


Commissioners Court of Grayson County       

Judge Bill Magers

            Mr. Jeff Whitmire

            Mr. David Whitlock

            Ms. Phyllis James

            Mr. Bart Lawrence

100 West Houston Street

Sherman, TX  75090

Dear Judge and Commissioners,                                                                               

cc:  Judge Magers (100 W Houston St, Ste 15, Sherman, TX 75090); Commissioner Whitmire (1312 Vietnam Veterans Parkway [East FM 1417], Sherman, Texas 75090); Commissioner Whitlock (9631 Hwy 56E, Sherman, Texas 75090); Commissioner James (300 Locust St., Whitesboro, Texas 76273); and Commissioner Lawrence (221 County Facility Dr., Denison, TX 75020)

The undersigned individuals and organizations, from across the general political spectrum, and individually focused upon a wide range of civic issues, write to urge you to take up the favorable  consideration of a Texas Historical Marker, memorializing the Sherman Riot of 1930, to be installed on the grounds of the Grayson County Courthouse.

On 9 May of that year, an unruly mob set fire and destroyed the 1876-era Grayson County, Texas Courthouse in our nation’s worst race riot since the 1921 devastation in Tulsa, Oklahoma. National, and international, newspapers covered the incident which resulted in both the extrajudicial lynching of a black man accused of assaulting and raping a white woman, as well as the wholesale destruction of the black business district in Sherman Texas. As the courthouse burned, the mob cut the firehoses laid down to fight the blaze and then turned on the local sheriff, as well as Texas Rangers and National Guardsmen brought in to deal with the riotous throng destroying the city’s black neighborhood. The body of accused George Hughes, locked in the courthouse’s two story vault to escape the mob menacing him during the trial, was dynamited from the smoldering ashes of the courthouse, dragged through the black neighborhood, and then mutilated, hanged, and burned amid the remains of the destroyed city’s black business area.

Yet among the current twenty-four monuments and tokens of remembrance surrounding the courthouse, including eight Texas Historical Markers, none reflect the atrocities which occurred that day on the courthouse grounds, or the disastrous impact it had on our local black community.

On 9 March 2021, your Grayson County Historical Commission (GCHC) sent the Grayson County Commissioners Court a letter detailing the events of their publically held, open meeting of March 6. In the letter, the GCHC Chairman outlined the generic process for erecting a Texas Historical Marker and informed you, that in their opinion, the proposed Sherman Riot of 1930 Historical Marker met the Texas Historical Commission’s requirements of being historically significant and that the 6 March public session met your requirement to discuss this topic as an Agenda Item in open session at a GCHC meeting. In addition, during the following week, several citizens of Grayson County also petitioned Commissioners Court members to put the request to erect a Historical Marker at the Grayson County Courthouse on the Grayson County Commissioners Court Agenda for a favorable endorsement of installation on the current courthouse grounds. Sixty days later, we all are waiting for a court session to address this topic.

Our local history of racial injustice needs to be acknowledged and this atrocity and abuse must be recognized and remembered before our community can fully recover from the effects of this historic, but often ignored, overlooked, or discounted event. We collectively feel that as a local population, we must first recognize, and then faithfully concede, there has been a problem with racial injustice in our community in the past.  Ignoring the issue will not make it go away. Due to current national awareness on this general topic, until our county comes to grips with the fact this kind of horrific event specifically occurred, and that it happened at the center of our county’s symbol of justice, we can’t go forward as a whole-cloth community of equals. We can’t collectively act like a race riot and lynching didn’t happen in our county, and then not have our children, and their children, educated and saying, “I’ve never heard of this.”

Experts tell us that public memorialization plays a significant role in both prompting, and promoting, community-wide reconciliation. A Texas Historical Marker, on the Courthouse lawn- exactly where this horrific event began, would be an appropriate remembrance towards faithfully achieving this desired end state. The rest of the world is watching in disbelief as we collectively continue to pretend that our nation is racially whole. Let’s show that we here in Grayson County, Texas know how to begin the healing process.

We therefore urge you to place the topic of a Texas Historical Marker memorializing the Sherman Riot of 1930 on the Commissioners Court Agenda, and favorably consider its installation on the Grayson County Courthouse grounds.


Melissa Thiel

1930 Historical Marker Chairperson

Marcus Avitia

Trent Bass

Logan Beauchamp

Brandt Beland

Cassandra Belt

Pastor Lander Bethel
Grand Avenue Presbyterian Church, Sherman; First Presbyterian Church, Denison

Genna M. Bethel

Nate Bigelow

Pastor Alton Blakely
Senior Pastor, Mt. Olive Baptist Church

Debbie Bowden

Rev Charles Brown Jr.
Senior Pastor, New Birth Cathedral of Praise
President of Sherman Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (SIMA)

Karen Brown

Lisa M. Brown

Karen Bruton

Scott Bruton
Concerned Citizen

Tom Busby
Concerned Citizen

Vicki Busby
Grace United Methodist Church

Lori Carlson

Mariann Casey

Vernice Casey

Terri Chapin
Lifelong Sherman Resident

Kurt Cichowski
1930 Historical Marker Member

Laura Cichowski
Concerned Citizen of Denison

Kathryn Cleveland

Destiny Cole

Tom Cox

Melody Davis

Curtis Dell

Laura Dominick

Livia Douglas

Deion Eason

Melissa Eason

Hunter Evans

J. Wesley Evans
Rector, St. Stephens Episcopal Church

Audrey Flemming

Jan Fletcher
Precinct Chair, Activist

Carol Griffith

David Griffith

Rayce Guess
Vice President, Grayson County NAACP

Kathleen Hagan

A. Hambrick
President, Grayson County NAACP

Felix Harcourt

Jakrislyn Harper-Orr

Amy Hoffman-Shehan

Patricia Hoops

Terry Hoops

Taylor House

James Hughes
Raised in Sherman

Victor Hughes

Crystal Hunt

Avery Kahl

Catherine Krantz

Matt Krov

Sheridan Krov

Conner Joyce

Manuela Joyce

Marsha Kahl

Jacob Kamras

Janet M. Kamras

Charles Leslie

Susan Marum
Sherman Resident
Dena Massey

Zachary Massey

Katelyn Mazzant

Pamela McGraw

Patricia McGraw-Sharkey, M.D.

Inga Michaelsen

Niels Michaelsen

Suzanne Miller

Sarah Nell-Evans

Glenn T. Nix Jr.

Debi Owens
Secretary, Grayson County NAACP

Sergio Pierrot

Dick Powell
Concerned Citizen

Abigail Reasnor
Born and raised in Sherman, Concerned Citizen

Derick Shaw

Karen Spencer

Bill Steele

Terrence Steele

Adrian Stevenson

Eugenia Stevenson

Megan Taylor
Gary Thomas
1930 Historical Marker Member, Downtown Merchant

Dru Thomson

Florence Tingey Tracz
Concerned Citizen

Marliece Vanneste

Robert Vanneste

Charles Vaughn

Phyllis Vaughn

Debbie Watt

Tom Watt
Grayson County Sheriff

Robert Weatherford

Brad Wells

Nichele Wells

Susan Whitenack

Claire Wolnisty
Sherman Resident



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