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'His life did matter': Carrboro honors victim of 1898 lynching with historical marker

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Photos courtesy of James Williams and Dustin Duong

On Feb. 18, the Town of Carrboro, the Orange County Community Remembrance Coalition and the Equal Justice Initiative will unveil a historical marker honoring Manly McCauley, a victim of an 1898 lynching.

McCauley was an 18-year-old Black man accused of having a relationship with Maggie Lloyd Brewer, a married white woman in the Chapel Hill area. After being chased by a mob, McCauley was lynched on Oct. 30, 1898 near the present-day intersection of Old Greensboro Road and Hatch Road.

The marker's unveiling will take place outside of Carrboro’s Town Hall and will feature speakers including Carrboro Mayor Barbara Foushee, former Hillsborough Mayor Jenn Weaver and N.C. Rep. Renée Price (D-Caswell, Orange).

Price, who is also the co-chair of the OCCRC, said the marker is part of EJI’s Community Remembrance Project, which commissions groups across the country to research and memorialize victims of racial violence in their communities.

The OCCRC is comprised of over a dozen Orange County organizations, including the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, the Chapel Hill Public Library and the Orange County Arts Commission. 

Foushee said the Town of Carrboro was asked to approve the location of the marker on Town Hall property, while the OCCRC and EJI were primarily involved in the planning and execution of the commemoration.

“This marker pays homage to his life, and his life did matter,” Foushee said. “When he got lynched, he was 18 years old. He hadn’t even really started to live.”

According to OCCRC records, McCauley’s family was from the Chapel Hill area. At the time that he was murdered, McCauley had been working as a farmhand on the Brewer farm for about a year. The four men arrested for his murder were acquitted of all charges.

“We continue to work to show — through our values and also through some actions that we’re taking — that we are not that Carrboro now,” Foushee said.

Diane Robertson, the chair of the commemorative marker committee and former political action chair of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, said the intention of the historical marker is to bring a greater understanding of the true story of Carrboro.

“The intent in no way is to place blame on anyone,” Price said. “It’s to let the community know from whence we came and where we need to go.”

McCauley was the first lynching victim that EJI identified in Orange County, Robertson said. She said the front of the marker will be dedicated to McCauley while the back will honor other victims of lynching in Orange County.

Another component of McCauley’s memorialization is a soil collection from the approximate location of the lynching, which will be displayed at the unveiling event, Robertson said. EJI, under the leadership of Bryan Stevenson, has conducted soil collections from more than 700 sites of racial terror lynchings, which are displayed at the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Ala.

The event will also feature musical performances by Brown Sugar Strings, a spoken word performance by Chapel Hill's poet laureate CJ Suitt and former UNC professor Reginald Hildebrand as a distinguished guest speaker.

Robertson, who is also listed as speaker for the unveiling event, said soil collections for five other victims of lynching in the Hillsborough area have taken place, and there are plans to erect an additional historical marker in their honor.

“For the Black community, it gives an opportunity to tell our story, to control the narrative, and to take pride in who we are rather than trying to continue with this sort of pushing aside some of the atrocities that happened to us,” Price said. “We know they happened. We still feel the pain, even generations later.”

@SSmiley2027

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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