Decades after the Civil War, black men were hanged from Frankfort's Singing Bridge. While not necessarily a part of history we want to rehash, it is a piece we must not forget.

Racism still exists locally — that is something 34 of 35 elected officials agreed on at a recent luncheon sponsored by Frankfort’s Focus on Race Relations (FORR), according to the group's leader, Ed Powe. FORR was founded after one person was killed and 28 were injured counterprotesting a 2017 white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

While race relations remains a sensitive subject, it’s the goal of FORR to start a conversation about the topic by urging local folks to step out of their comfort zone, according to Powe.

“We’re being pulled apart like no other time in our country since the Civil War,” he told The State Journal.

One way FORR is bringing awareness to the subject is by publicly honoring two men — Mashal Boston in 1894 and John Maxey in 1909 — who were lynched from the Singing Bridge. Both were accused of killing white men and were killed before their day in court.

In an effort to preserve that history, FORR will collect soil from the foot of the bridge and send it to the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to be included in its “Lynching in America” exhibit in Montgomery, Alabama. A ceremony to mark the occasion is planned for 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, in the Paul Sawyier Public Library’s River Room.

The group is also hoping to partner with EJI and the City of Frankfort to construct a monument honoring the lynching victims in a flower bed adjacent to the Singing Bridge.

We commend FORR for drawing attention to this vital piece of capital city history. Even 110 years removed from Maxey’s death, racial tensions linger, and this is a conversation we all have a stake in as we move forward.

For more information about FORR, check out its website and Facebook page. The group meets the second Monday of each month from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Kentucky State University Alumni House.

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