On July 4th, 1892, Benjamin Reed’s freedom was in jeopardy after a dispute with Frank Burrows, his white co-worker. Burrows tried to reprimand Reed. Reed told Burrows not to treat him like a dog. It escalated from there.
The two swung heavy pieces of wood at each other until Reed landed a lethal blow on Burrows. Immediately Reed was taken into police custody, and word of his planned lynching quickly spread. But the Black community was listening, too.
The mob protection of Benjamin Reed lasted three days, growing to over 1,000 people. Angry white locals came as far as North Georgia to combat the Black community’s response. On July 7th, the crowds dispersed as the military and a downpour of rain arrived. Despite this, the Black community had saved Reed’s life.
How the Black community in Jacksonville stood by Benjamin Reed is precisely how we should support and protect ourselves today. Together, we are stronger and capable of overcoming whatever is thrown at us.