On July 14, 1946, four African American sharecroppers were lynched at Moore’s Ford in northeast Georgia in an event now described as the “last mass lynching in America.” Yet the killers of George Dorsey, Mae Murray Dorsey, Roger Malcolm, and Dorothy Malcolm were never brought to justice. The violence and public outcry surrounding the event reflected growing African American challenges to Jim Crow in the post-World War II years as well the failures of state and federal authorities to address racial inequality and violence in the South.
A fight between Roger Malcolm and his wife Dorothy sparked the crisis that unfolded in mid-July in Walton County, just sixty miles outside of Atlanta. On July 14, Malcolm was arrested by local authorities after stabbing white overseer Barnette Hester who had intervened in the domestic conflict. Hester may have had a sexual relationship with Dorothy Malcolm. Eleven days after this assault on July 25, white landowner J. Loy Harrison drove Dorothy Malcolm and fellow sharecroppers George and Mae Murray Dorsey to the Monroe, Georgia, jail to bail out Roger Malcolm. A large white mob stopped Harrison and the two couples on their return trip near the Moore’s Ford Bridge on the Apalachee River. What happened next was hotly debated by Harrison and other witnesses. Loy Harrison was reputed to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan, as were many others who gathered at Moore’s Ford Bridge. Ultimately, the mob beat the sharecroppers before tying them to a tree and shooting them to death. George Dorsey was a World War II veteran recently returned from service in the Pacific while Dorothy Malcolm was seven months pregnant.
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