The Moore’s Ford Memorial Committee is a group of citizens from Oconee, Walton, and surrounding counties that formed a nonprofit organization to commemorate the lives of the four African Americans killed by a lynch mob at the Moore’s Ford Bridge in July 1946. Their work involves cemetery restoration, grave makers, historical markers, memorial services, student scholarships to surrounding counties, and advocating for a memorial museum.
The Moore’s Ford lynching, also known as the 1946 Georgia lynching, occurred on July 25, 1946. A mob consisting of fifteen to twenty white men lynched and then shot four African Americans – World War II veteran George W. Dorsey and his pregnant wife Mae Murray Dorsey and their friends Roger and Dorothy Malcolm. Common lore states that the lynching took place on the Moore’s Ford Bridge in Walton and Oconee counties, bridging the cities Monroe and Watkinsville; in reality, the victims were shot and killed on the road in Walton County.
The lynching attracted national attention and spurred President Harry S. Truman to create the President’s Committee on Civil Rights. During this time anti-lynching legislation was also introduced to Congress, but was not passed. The FBI conducted an investigation into the lynching in 1946 but was unable to garner sufficient evidence for the United States District Attorney to prosecute. The investigation lasted six months, and resulted in around 3,000 interviews and 100 subpoenas. However, there was little local support or cooperation in the investigation and no one confessed. The FBI was unable to uncover physical evidence in the case as well. A grand jury heard testimony in December 1946, but did not convict anyone of the crime. The case received further national interest when a witness, Clinton Adams, came forward in 1992 leading to an account in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and renewing interest in the case. In 2001 the case was reopened by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the FBI joined the reopened case in 2006. The case was closed again in 2015 by the FBI and 2018 by the GBI due to insufficient evidence.
The article in 1992 renewed local interest in commemorating the Dorseys and Malcolms. The Moore’s Ford Memorial Committee was founded in 1997 to work towards commemoration and racial reconciliation. The group succeeded in erecting tombstones on the previously unmarked graves, conducting a military memorial service for George Dorsey in 1999, and working with the Georgia Historical Society to erect a historical marker at the site of the lynching in 1999 on the 53rd anniversary of the lynching. The organization comprised local residents, as well as honorary members including Representative John Lewis (D-GA 5th District) and former President Bill Clinton.