Savannah, GA, February 28, 2023 – The Georgia Historical Society (GHS) dedicated a new Civil Rights Trail historical marker that recognizes the Camilla Massacre, one of the most violent episodes in Reconstruction-era Georgia. GHS unveiled the new marker in partnership with Union Baptist Church, Mitchell County NAACP Branch #5254, and Mitchell County High School Class of 1980 on Monday, February 27, 2023, in Camilla.
In early September 1868, the state legislature expelled twenty-eight (Republican) African-American legislators who were elected that April. In response to their expulsion, Republicans rallied in Albany to march to Camilla on September 19, 1868. As the marchers entered the courthouse square, the group was met with violent White backlash that resulted in the deaths of over a dozen freedmen and injury to many more.
News about the Camilla Massacre was reported nationwide. The event pointed to the larger trend of politically motivated racial violence occurring throughout the South. As a consequence of the violence in Camilla and other Southern communities, many Black voters, fearing more violence, did not participate in the November 1868 presidential election. The bloodshed in Camilla led Congress to return Georgia to military occupation and further Reconstruction governance.
“The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners is proud to have been a part of the unveiling of the Georgia Historical Society Marker commemorating the Camilla Massacre,” said the Honorable Benjamin Hayward, Chairman, Mitchell County Board of Commissioners. “The request for the marker was brought to our attention by a concerned citizen and our staff worked closely with the citizen, local historian Dr. Joshua Butler, and the Georgia Historical Society to bring this project to completion.”
The marker dedication took place at the Mitchell County Court House. Speakers included Elyse Butler, Marker Manager, Georgia Historical Society; Dr. Charles Gilbert, Pastor, Blooming Light Missionary Baptist Church; the Honorable Benjamin Hayward, Chairman, Mitchell County Board of Commissioners; Dr. Joshua Butler, Local Historian and Professor, Albany State University; and Mr. Marvin Broadwater.
The marker text reads:
In one of the most violent episodes in Reconstruction Georgia, a rally in Mitchell County in September 1868 resulted in about a dozen freedmen being killed and several dozen wounded. Georgia had been re-admitted to the United States just two months prior. Leading up to the terrible events of September 19, White Democrats and Republicans in the Georgia legislature expelled all 28 African-American legislators. One of those expelled, Philip Joiner from southwest Georgia, led several hundred freedmen from Albany to Camilla for a rally in the Mitchell County seat. Upon arrival, the sheriff and other local Whites opened fire. Many Black voters stayed home for the 1868 presidential election two months later. News of the massacre circulated throughout the country, and Congress returned Georgia to military occupation and further Reconstruction.
Erected by the Georgia Historical Society, Union Baptist Church, Mitchell County NAACP Branch #5254, and Mitchell County High School Class of 1980
For more information about the Camilla Massacre historical marker dedication or the Georgia Historical Society marker program, please contact Keith Strigaro, Director of Communications, at 912.651.2125, ext. 153 or by email at email@example.com.
ABOUT THE GEORGIA HISTORICAL MARKER PROGRAM
The Georgia Historical Society (GHS) administers Georgia’s historical marker program. For 25 years, GHS has erected over 300 new historical markers across the state on a wide variety of subjects. GHS also coordinates the maintenance for more than 2,100 markers installed by the State of Georgia prior to 1998. Online mapping tools allow users to design driving routes based on historical markers, and a mobile app helps visitors locate and learn about markers nearby. Visit georgiahistory.com for more ways to use Georgia’s historical markers and experience history where it happened.
ABOUT THE GEORGIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Georgia Historical Society (GHS) is the premier independent statewide institution responsible for collecting, examining, and teaching Georgia history. GHS houses the oldest and most distinguished collection of materials related exclusively to Georgia history in the nation.
To learn more visit georgiahistory.com.