Hundreds of vehicles past the spot every day. Cars, pickup trucks, log trucks, 18 wheelers, fisherman going to Lake Eufaula. I have passed it 100 times or more.
“The spot” is on U.S. Highway 82 in Barbour County. Right where a county road turns north toward the old Comer school. There is historical marker there, like countless ones that dot Alabama’s landscape.
This one tells the story of the election riot of 1874. Freedman were the majority of county citizens during this reconstruction era. They voted Republican. Members of the Alabama chapter of the White League, a paramilitary group didn’t like what was happening and decided to take matters in their own hands.
So on November 3, election day, League members attacked the crowd gathered to vote. They killed seven black voters and wounded 70.and drove away a crowd of about 1,000. Over time, such actions dissuaded black voters and Democrats soon controlled local politics again.
This story seems pertinent in these times, especially in light of the riot at the national capitol on Jan. 6. Can you imagine the furor if the election riot of 1874 took place today?
Our history is covered with blood. Just read about the family feuds that sprang up all across Appalachia in the late 1800’s and early in the 1900s. I deplore violence. Haven’t shot a gun since I was a teenager shooting doves.
But I think it is important to keep our willingness to resort to guns to settle our disagreements in context. We should contuse efforts to limit the guns in our midst. However, given our DNA, it is not an easy task.