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Proposal: Historical Landmark for Lynching in Allegany County

America has long had a history of racial terror. It is time we own up to our actions and acknowledge what has happened. There is no way to rewrite history, but there is time to make sure history is never forgotten. My plan is to ask the county to make a sign for where a lynching occurred in Allegany County Maryland. Places are all over the nation are acknowledging the past and making sure it is remembered it is time that we due our part and make sure this moment in history is never forgotten and can be seen for generations to come.

The Issue

Problem Defined

In 1907 there was a lynching that occurred in Allegany County right behind the courthouse. There is no marker or sign for what happened. I feel it is our duty to acknowledge what happen and make sure people are able to see what occurred here. As a nation it is our responsibility to acknowledge what happened and make sure it is taught to those who come after us.

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What is a lynching?MORE

Lynching is murdering someone by a group of people practicing extrajudicial action. This is when a group of people take matters into their own hands and execute someone for any number of reasons. The person is denied their constitutional right to a trial and are stripped away of not only their right, but their humanity.


According to the NAACP there were 4743 lynchings in America between 1882 and 1968. 72.7 percent of people lynched were black. Of the white people that were lynched, many were lynched for helping black people or fighting for social justice.

William BurnsMORE

On October 6, 1907 William Burns was lynched outside of the courthouse in Allegany County Maryland. He was accused of shooting a police officer to death. He was dragged from his cell by a white mob, including many prominent figures from Cumberland. He was beaten and since they could not find a rope, they shot him to death and left him outside for others to look at.

The 6th AmendmentMORE

This was a human being. He had a family. He was a citizen of this country. But he was not treated as one on this day. The sixth amendment guarantees a person to a fair trial. Taking someone outside and shooting them is not a fair trial.


We the people of this country have a duty to acknowledge the history that came before it and make sure those after us know what happened. Long has this country had a history of trying to ignore its past and the actions that occurred. You and I are not responsible for what happened. We are responsible for making sure what happened is told.

Go deeper

I am a student in Sociology 101 at Allegany College in Cumberland Maryland. 

Wil Brauer
Diane McMahon
Associate Professor of Sociology - Allegany College of Maryland
I am a sociology professor at Allegany College of Maryland, which is located in Cumberland, MD. I also work as the Faculty Director of the Service Learning and Civic Engagement (SLCE) Center at the college. I have worked in a variety of professions in my past that focuses on helping the homeless. Most recently I was the director of a peace and justice organization in Pittsburgh.

I am a great supporter of the work of TheChisel.com because it helps raise up topics that students and community members can work on together, in a bi-partisan manner, to address.
Casey White

The Solution

Proposed Actions
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A sign for what happenedMORE

I am proposing we put a marker to signal what happened. The marker will tell the story of where a man was denied his right. This story must be told and it is owed to all of those affected by it.

Expected Results
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There is no bringing him back or making things right. The best thing w can do is tell William;s story and make sure it lives on.


The marker could cost between 500-1500 dollars. While this is expensive the story it tells is priceless. People will travel through to see the sign. School will come to see where history happened. This acknowledges the past and helps to connect those of today with history.

The Conversation

5 months ago
I am a white male from a predominantly white area. I have never experienced racism or been treated differently because of my skin color. I didn't experience the things people before me went through. There is no way I can make mends for what happened, But I can make sure their story is told. That is all we can do. We can't make history right but can we make sure it is never forgotten.

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