Lamar Smith memorial marker likely to be installed in August

Published 10:54 am Tuesday, May 30, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Lincoln County Board of Supervisors had a rather uneventful Payroll and Accounts Payable meeting with the exception of a historical sign Tuesday morning. Daniel Calcote, Lincoln County Administrator, gave an update on the Lamar Smith memorial marker and said they had received the sign and it will likely be installed in August.

One of the women who led the charge with Dick Scruggs to get a memorial marker requested the sign to be dedicated on August 13, Calcote said. Lamar “Ditney” Smith was shot and killed on August 13, 1955 as he worked to help black voters with absentee ballots.

Supervisors Eddie Brown, Doug Falvey, Nolan Williamson and Jerry McGehee expressed they would prefer to hold the ceremony on a date which would not conflict with church, August 13 is on a Sunday. Supervisor Jerry Wilson was absent from the meeting. The board of supervisors made no official decision Tuesday on when the sign would be unveiled and dedicated but agreed to make a decision closer to August.

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Calcote said the sign would be installed on the lawn of the courthouse and would be a six to seven foot tall sign like many of the historical markers across the state.

“It will be angled to where you could see it from the road. It will be two sided but it says the same thing on both sides,” Calcote said.

Lincoln County’s board of supervisors voted in November to approve the installation of the sign cast by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History with the wording below.

“Murder of Lamar Smith On August 13, 1955, Lamar Smith, A 63-year-old African American farmer and World War I veteran, was murdered in broad daylight on the courthouse lawn while encouraging African Americans to vote. Smith had been threatened for organizing Black voters and was killed in front of dozens of witnesses. An all-White grand jury failed to indict the three White men arrested for the murder after witnesses refused to testify. No one was ever prosecuted for Smith’s murder.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation opened a cold case file in 2008 and reported Noah Smith, Mack Smith and Charles Falvey were arrested for the shooting. An all-white grand jury failed to return any indictments in September 1955 after hearing from 50 to 75 witnesses who claimed to not have seen anything according to the FBI’s case summary. In 2010, the FBI closed the cold case file because all three suspects, Noah Smith, Mack Smith and Charles Falvey were deceased.