TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The NACCP and other leaders of the community remember the life of George Ward Sunday as a historical marker was dedicated in his honor at Fairbanks Park.
Ward was jailed, lynched and burned near the Wabash River on Feb. 26, 1901 after being accused of murdering a white woman the day before. Now, between the jail where he was held and the bridge where his life was taken, a historical marker will stand to remember his life.
“We discovered that this happened to our grandfather in 1901,” George Ward’s great grandson, Vincent Moralez, said. “We never knew about it. It was something that was hidden from us for years and when we found out about it, we just wanted to make sure that the family and the community knew what happened to our grandfather.”
Terre Haute NAACP President Sylvester Edwards said he was shocked yet excited by the overwhelming support from the community.
“We did not expect all of this but the community came together in solidarity. It’s about healing,” Edwards said. “It’s about closure. Reparations of some of the things that happened to the Ward Family 120 years ago.”
Hundreds of supporters gathered in attendance for the dedication to hear from local leaders and Ward’s family about facing injustice in the community.
“This is only the tip of the iceberg. The greater Terre Haute NAACP ‘Facing Injustice’ project has not stopped,” Edwards explained. “We’re going to make sure there’s common causes. Things that have to be taken care of that we can come together as a community and solve these problems.”
The Ward family said they hope the community and the nation learns from this day as they work to move forward.
“I hope the impact has impacted the community in Terre Haute at the time that this happened,” Moralez said. “I hope today sends a message to the whole country that this shouldn’t happen to anybody of color. Any race, creed or color.”
NAACP leaders said it is important for people to understand the past in order to build a better future.