Druid Hill Group in DeKalb County, Georgia erects historic markers

The Lynching of Porter Turner

On the night of August 20, 1945, members of the Ku Klux Klan lynched Porter Flournoy Turner, a middle-aged black man.

Born in Greensboro, Georgia, Turner was a paid farm laborer for his family when he was 14. In 1920 he moved to the fourth division of Atlanta, where he worked 60 hours a week as a mechanic and doorman in a dealership full-service garage.

Mr. Turner was last seen on the evening of August 20, 1945 operating the white cab he drove to raise additional income for his family. The next morning, his body was found on the lawn of a prominent white doctor who lived on Springdale Road in Atlanta’s Druid Hills neighborhood. The taxi he had been driving was parked on the side of the road across the street. Members of the Kavalier Klub, a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, had brutally stabbed him and left him to die on the street. Mr. Turner managed to crawl onto the lawn before he died.

DeKalb police only conducted a cursory investigation and recorded Mr Turner’s lynching as an apparent robbery. However, in June 1946 it became clear that Mr. Turner had been the victim of racial terrorist lynching.

Undercover informants working with the Georgian Assistant Attorney General revealed that members of the Klavalier Klub – a Klan law enforcement officer charged with terrorist attacks – boasted during an undercover meeting that they had killed Mr. Turner.

Far from the small group of extremist outsiders, in the 19th and early 20th centuries the clan attracted members from all walks of life in white society, including planters, lawyers, merchants and ministers. During this time, the Atlanta Klan, law enforcement agencies, and white taxi owners conspired to protect white economic control. Financial independence left blacks vulnerable to violent retaliation.

Despite the new evidence of who committed the murder, no one has ever been arrested or held accountable for lynching Mr Turner.

DeKalb remembrance project

In 2018, the DeKalb County Branch of the NAACP (NAACP DeKalb), in partnership with EJI, established a committee to establish historical markers recognizing all known and unknown African-American victims of racial terrorist lynching in DeKalb County, Georgia. The DeKalb Remembrance Project grew out of these efforts, and Schaune Griffin chairs the Druid Hills Committee.

Led by Dee Smith, Chair of the DeKalb Remembrance Project, and Teresa Hardy, NAACP DeKalb President, the DeKalb Remembrance Coalition now includes over 50 community members and supporting organizations. With the support of the community, the coalition initiated a campaign entitled “Journey of Remembrance and Reconciliation”, which included program and educational events planned from September 2019 to April 2020.

Essay competition for the DeKalb Remembrance Coalition

The DeKalb Remembrance Project started an essay competition for racial justice on February 1st, 2020 in cooperation with EJI. Students attending a DeKalb County public high school were invited to compete for prizes totaling at least $ 7,000.

The five winners and two honorable mentions were announced publicly on May 22, 2020. The winners were Maria Del Mar Castillo Carvajal (1st place), Rachel Choi (2nd place), Jayda Hudson (3rd place), Niana Battle (4th place), Mikhail Bracy (5th place) and Sherifa Akinniyi and Joss Connally (Honorable Mentions). Announcements were sent to the DeKalb County Schools superintendent, each student’s principal, county commissioners, and local newspapers.

In conjunction with the High School Essay Contest, the DeKalb Remembrance Project also hosted a College Essay Contest for students who are both in college and living in DeKalb County. Two college student winners were announced and each received a cash award from the coalition.