An 1892 lynching in my hometown didn’t follow the usual Jim Crow-era script. My journey to figure out why.

Five names stared at me, inscribed on one of the 800 rusty steel blocks suspended from the ceiling at National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery last January.

Author photograph. January 2020.

William Thomas. Martin Love. Lee McDaniel. Jack Wilson. A.L. McCamy.

Each block lists the names of individuals lynched during the Jim Crow era in a county. This particular block was for Whitfield County, Georgia, where I grew up. Five Black men lynched in my hometown. Five Black men I had never heard of. Five stories I now needed to learn.

In the months that followed, I scoured local newspaper articles published…


Two weeks ago, I shared the story of the Civil War’s final battle, the Battle of Columbus, and how a freed slave named Horace King had designed and built the bridge that enabled Union troops to easily win. It was a battle that almost didn’t happen because General Lee had already surrendered seven days earlier, but neither side had heard the news yet.

In telling that story, I didn’t have room to talk about another way that battle had global implications. Without the Battle of Columbus, we may not have Coca-Cola today.

Source: Wikipedia entry for John Pemberton

Among the Confederate soldiers defending Columbus that Easter…


On a family camping trip in Southwest Georgia last week, we stopped in Columbus for a brief history detour. Until Googling before the trip, I didn’t know (or had forgotten) that the last major military engagement of the Civil War occurred in Columbus, 156 years ago today. I’d also never heard of Horace King, but that was about to change. We all should know his story.

On Easter Sunday, April 16, 1865, Union Major General James Wilson’s troops approached Columbus, capping off a burning sweep across Alabama, much like General Sherman’s more well-known fiery march through Georgia months earlier. Confederate…


While the media focuses on controversies surrounding Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, something commendable flew under the radar in her Georgia House district early Saturday morning.

Photo Credit: Dalton Daily Citizen News

At 2:30 AM while the town was sleeping, a local crew moved the statue of Confederate General Joseph B. Johnston from downtown Dalton, my hometown, to the backyard of the nearby Huff House, a structure that served as his headquarters during his troops’ defense against Sherman’s Union soldiers. …


Sometimes I wonder whether Dr. King would be shunned if he were alive today.

His views on poverty, war, and labor would earn him the “radical socialist” label from many on the right. His views of justice rooted in the Biblical narrative and America’s founding documents would be rejected by many on the left. And both sides would perceive his call to love our enemies as weak and ineffective. …


I was 7 years old the last time a sitting President visited my hometown. I remember my mom checking me out of school to see him speak at Shaw Industries, a local carpet plant in Dalton. I don’t remember anything President George H.W. Bush said that day, but I do remember the deep pride that welled up inside me that the President of the United States visited Dalton.

I wish I had that same feeling tonight as I watched coverage of the second presidential visit in my lifetime. Instead, I was overwhelmed by grief and anger.

I watched bleachers packed…


The ends don’t always justify the means.

Over the last few months, I’ve debated whether writing out thoughts on this election was worth it. After all, most people seem to have already made up their mind. But writing out my thoughts clarified my thinking, and perhaps taking others along on that journey may help them too.

Initially, I wrote a much longer post that laid out a right-leaning case against voting for President Trump. But, there’s already been a lot written about that, and I don’t want to just add to the noise. …


In the dark night of October 16, 1859, abolitionist John Brown and 18 men (14 White and 5 Black) entered Harper’s Ferry, a small town sixty miles NW of Washington, DC where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers intersect. They captured a federal arsenal that held thousands of weapons in hopes of freeing nearby slaves and leading an armed insurrection to overthrow slavery. Instead, few slaves joined their cause, and local militias soon surrounded them in the fire engine house, which later became known as “John Brown’s Fort.” They held on for 30 hours until federal troops, under the command of…


“Actions speak louder than words” is a phrase I’ve heard throughout my life. Last night was a glaring example of why that saying exists. As the President was giving a speech stating he was “an ally of all peaceful protesters,” police across the street were using flash bangs, tear gas, and batons to beat back a peaceful protest and clear a path to St. John’s Episcopal Church that had a basement fire the night before. He then ended his speech by saying that he was “going to pay my respects to a very, very special place.” When I think of…


Today we mourn those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. This year I decided do something more intentional than my typical Memorial Day. I googled African American soldiers who died fighting for our country, and I came away more grateful than I imagined.

I first want to make clear that I’m not downplaying the sacrifice of any soldier who died protecting our country. What strikes me as particularly brave about these soldiers is that they gave their lives for the freedom of others when they themselves didn’t have freedom in their own country. Many did so in hopes…

Sam Rauschenberg

Working in education policy/data. Writing mostly at the intersection of education, race, politics, and faith. Opinions are my own.

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