Indiana teen fights to honor black lynching victims in his hometown

Although Sophie Kloppenburg may be young, she already has experience fighting against adversity in the name of commemorating black history.

This 17-year-old faced particular odds when she embarked on a mission to pay homage to 7 black men who were lynched in her hometown of Mount Vernon, Indiana Atlanta Black Star.

Draw attention to Mount Vernon’s dark past

While practicing for a driving test with a family friend, Sophie learned about the troubled history of Mount Vernon. Although the community of South Indiana is her hometown, she had never heard of her dark past.

“We got talking about black history and everything and he told me about the lynchings that had happened and I was obviously shocked because I’ve lived here all my life and I never knew that happened.”

Over the course of three days in October 1878, a lynch mob brutally killed seven men – Daniel Harrison Jr., John Harrison, Daniel Harrison Sr., Jim Good, William Chambers, Edward Warner and Jeff Hopkins. CBS The killings reportedly took place after the men were accused of rape. Additionally, it’s important to note that the mob hanged four of the men outside of the Posey County Courthouse.

After receiving this information, Sophie tried to determine if the courthouse even commemorated the incident. However, she couldn’t find any mention of the murders, so she launched a mission to change that with a memorial.

Critics struggle to whitewash the Posey County story

While Sophie’s dedication to honoring the victims of the lynching is commendable, locals didn’t exactly embrace it.

Because Mount Vernon’s community is predominantly white, Sophie felt that many didn’t care too much about the project. In fact, she told that Atlanta Black Star that she had to appeal to the Posey County Commissioners Office five various occasions before agreeing to go ahead with the memorial.

Bryan Schorr, a county commissioner, addressed this by noting that the hesitation was “more about getting the wording right and making sure it’s correct and engaging people’s interest in a positive way.

In return, Sophie remembered some of the compromises she made to make her project a reality.

“I had to take out words like ‘lynching’ that were really important to me. [and] ‘bullied’… I couldn’t use those really important words because people were too uncomfortable.”

Kloppenburg would certainly object to some of the other edits, however.

“They also wanted me not to put the word African American in there, and I thought absolutely not. What’s the point of us uploading this if people don’t know it’s a racially motivated murder?”

All in all, Sophie has achieved her goal and is happy that her community is open to “difficult conversations”.

“I am proud of Posey County, Indiana, and the wonderful people here because they are leading the difficult conversations and giving minority groups an tangible voice. Many Thanks.”

Salute to Sophie Kloppenburg, who prevailed and erected a memorial in honor of the victims of the lynching at Mount Vernon. Indiana teen fights to honor black lynching victims in his hometown

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