Elbert Williams had already made the decision: he’d keep organizing NAACP meetings in the small community of Brownsville, Tennessee, despite the threats he’d heard circling around. He cared too much about his people to stop fighting for their rights.
But some other folks had made a few decisions of their own.
He was never charged for any crime. He was never accused of any wrongdoing. But the police showed up at his house one night, took him in for “questioning” - and only they know what truly happened next.
Williams never returned home after his interrogation. He didn’t show up to work the next day. The police claimed they had released him.
A few days later a body was found in the river. But was it Williams?
It was. His wife identified the body, which was beaten to a pulp and riddled with bullets. The authorities said he’d been murdered by “persons unknown” - code for a white lynch mob - and ordered him to be buried immediately, in an unmarked grave, with no autopsy.
No arrests were ever made.
Williams was the first NAACP member killed for his work, and today next to nothing is known about his murderers. White terrorists have done everything they can to keep our political power at bay, even vicious, cold-blooded murder. We must continue to fight!