A memorial to honor civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer Sr. will be built in Forrest County.
The Forrest County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved President David Hogan's request to use $20,000 from his district's recreation fund for the memorial Monday morning.
"With the new Civil Rights Museum in Jackson and the African American Museum in Washington, the board realized it was time to memorialize a Forrest County native who had paid the ultimate price in battling the civil rights movement and we are proud to do that," said Hogan.
Dahmer served two terms as president of the Forrest County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and led voter registration drives in the 1960s. He kept a voters registration book in his grocery store in late 1965 to make it easier for minorities to register.
"Remember, he never had a chance to vote," said Dahmer's widow, Ms. Ellie Dahmer, after the motion Monday morning. "His card came in the mail after we buried him."
Dahmer was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan when members fire-bombed his Hattiesburg home on January 10, 1966. His wife, Ellie, and children were able to escape.
"We will always remember, we can never forget it, not even that night. It's a night we can never erase from our minds," said Ms. Dahmer.
Board President David Hogan was part of the District Attorney's Office when the Former KKK Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers was sentenced to life in prison for his role in Dahmer's murder and the attack on the family.
Hogan said the board will build a committee for the development and design of the memorial, working with the Dahmer family. A location has not been determined, but Hogan said there has been discussion of putting the memorial in front of the Forrest County Circuit building, near the District Attorney's office.
"I want to compliment the supervisors for having the common decency to do such a wonderful thing. I think it's good for the community and it's good for race relationships in our community and I just thank god for it," said Rev. Dr. Reginald Woullard with Shady Grove Baptist Church, where the Dahmer family continue to be members.
"I hope the people will look at it and realize what happened to us and I hope it never happens to anyone else," said Ms. Dahmer. "I don't care what color they are. Nobody deserves to go through what we went through."
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