Community visits commission to talk George Hughes

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Sarah Myrick speaks before Grayson County Commissioners in support of a historic marker that would recognize the Sherman riots of 1930 and lynching of George Hughes.

Community members publicly asked Grayson County commissioners why requests to have a marker recognizing the Sherman Riots of 1930 have been ignored.

The questions, which were part of the public comment portion of Tuesday's meeting, came following months of requests to get a proposed Texas Historic Marker before county commissioners.

During this portion of the meeting, commissioners are not required to comment and customarily, no decision or vote is made based on comments made during this period.

The requests call for the placement of a historic marker on the Grayson County Courthouse grounds — the site of the 1930 killing of Black farmhand George Hughes, who was killed in the middle of his trial for an alleged sexual assault.

Hughes was killed when rioters, who were attempting to get to him, set the courthouse on fire and burned it to the ground. Hughes' corpse was then dragged through the streets and hanged from a tree with a fire was started underneath it. The riots also led to the razing of the nearby Black business district, of which never recovered.

In order for the request to move onto the state for consideration, county officials must approve of the placement as the sign would be located on county property. The proposed sign has already gone before the county historic commission, who said the proposal meets all criteria.

Organizers for the marker effort held a town hall meeting last week in which attendees encouraged each other to attend the commission meetings and speak in favor of the effort.

This week, four people signed up to speak on the topic.

Crowds gathered outside the Grayson County Courthouse in May in remembrance of George Hughes, a black farmhand who was lynched in 1930 in an act of mob justice. The event culminated in the destruction of the Grayson County Courthouse.

For her part, Sarah Myrick said she was proud of her community. While riots and violence broke out across the country last summer in response to the deaths of several Black men and women in police custody, protests in Grayson County remained peaceful.

"My question is: Why are you ignoring this? You are a smart, dedicated group of people," she said. "It boggles my mind to start to calculate the years of service to Grayson County that is represented on the commissioner's court."

Myrick said the inaction by the commission is creating frustration in the community where there was none prior. 

"We are just asking you to consider the placement of a metal sign on county property. We are not asking you to solve all of racism for all of the world," she continued. "We are not asking you to apologize in any way in regards to this, but your current choice to ignore this simple request is creating anger in our community.

"Anger that is left unchecked grows into resentment and resentment always turns into poison."

Wesley Evans also spoke in favor of the marker, noting that that the story it would tell is a part of the greater history of Grayson County and Texoma saying that history is neither positive nor negative and instead is made up of a mixture of everything.

"We all have a story— all of us individually, all of us as a community," he said. "We have a story, and everyone's story has good in it, it has some iffy, and it has some bad.

"If we don't know our story, we don't know our past. If we don't remember it, then we can't really move forward," he continued.