Benjamin Hart

Lynched on August 24, 1923

Soil Collection on August 23, 2020

Benjamin Hart was lynched on August 24, 1923.

A ceremony in remembrance of Benhamin Hart was held on August 23, 2020 and two jars marked with Hart’s name and the date he was lynched were filled with soil from a patch of land across from Mighty Church of the Redeemed, 2311 W. 12th St.

Neither the church nor any of the buildings surrounding it today were standing when Hart was killed on Aug. 24, 1923, in the then-rural area down the road from a logging camp where Hart worked cutting wood.

An anonymous crowd of white men, some claiming to be sheriff’s deputies, had gone to the camp in Northwest Jacksonville late at night searching for a Black man who a white girl had said peeped into her window.

The girl wasn’t with the searchers, but they lined up four Black workers who had been sleeping in a cabin there, then picked Hart to put in a car and take with them.  

Later, gunshots woke the few people living near Kings Road and 12th Street, who reported seeing six cars of white men leaving the area where Hart was found, handcuffed and shot from behind five times.

“They lynched an innocent negro,” Sheriff W.H. Dowling was quoted saying during an investigation where the man Hart worked for and his co-workers confirmed that when the peeping Tom was reported, Hart had been miles away, at the camp. Authorities promised arrests, but no charges were filed.

As Published in the Florida Times Union on August 21, 2020