JULY 8, 1876

This historical marker recognizes those who were killed in the Hamburg Massacre. Credit: Photo courtesy of Larry Gleason.

The Hamburg Massacre took place in South Carolina after Black members of a militia marched on the Fourth of July. 

Two white farmers, temporarily obstructed from traveling through town, brought a formal complaint, demanding the disbandment of the militia. When the trial began, hundreds of armed white men known as “Red Shirts” descended on the small Black community, and militia members retreated to a warehouse they used as their armory. The attackers fired a cannon at the armory, eventually killing seven Black men: Allen Attaway, Jim Cook, Albert Nyniart, Nelder Parker, Moses Parks, Da­vid Phillips and Hampton Stephens. Also killed was Thomas McKie Meriwether, the white victim. 

The Charleston News and Courier denounced the white participants as “cowardly, cruel and murderous.” The newspaper was flooded with canceled subscriptions. 

Eventually, 94 white men were indicted for murder, only to be cheered by throngs of white citizens along the way, who promised, “What we did in 1776 we will do in 1876.” 

It was the beginning of the “Redemption,” reinstituting white supremacist rule, just as Mississippi had done a year earlier. 

In 2016, the names of the Black men killed were finally recognized in a historical marker.

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.