Remembering George Stinney Jr. 80 Years Later

George Stinney Jr. 80 years ago
My poem Dear George

George Stinney Jr. was only 14 years old when he was executed 80 years ago on June 16. He was just a baby when the state of South Carolina strapped his tiny body to an electric chair and took his life away. In March of 1944, George and his sister were playing in front of their house when two white girls asked them if they knew where to find flowers. When the girls didn’t return home later that night, George joined the search party to help locate them. He briefly mentioned to another party member that he had seen the two earlier that day and after their bodies were found in a ditch the next morning, he was instantly arrested and interrogated for hours over their murders without any parent or lawyer present. On April 24, George was sent to trial where neither his parents nor any members of the Black community were allowed inside the courtroom. His court-appointed lawyer was a tax attorney who failed to call even one witness to the stand. After an all white jury spent 10 minutes in deliberation, they convicted him of both rape and murder and he was sentenced to die. Mobs of white people who tried to lynch George earlier chased his family out of town, so they never once saw him again before his execution. He was sent to the murder chamber alone with no one he knew present. Because he was only 90 pounds and his body was so small, the executioner placed a Bible under him to successfully complete the murder. They placed a metal bowl over his head and covered his eyes with a leather mask, which continuously fell during the electrocution and revealed his big, wet eyes to the audience. George Stinney Jr. was an innocent boy who was murdered 80 years ago because he was Black. 70 years later in 2014, he was exonerated posthumously because he was not given a fair trial. I hope we never tire of learning about injustices such as this so that we can fight for a better world. I hope that we never forget George Stinney Jr. and what South Carolina did to him. I hope we remember all of the people just like George whose faces and names we’ve yet to learn.


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