Palm Beach County Community Remembrance Project Soil Collection Ceremony for 1926 Victim of Lynching

By Josephine Gon
Vice President, Jewish Community Relations Council
Published May 24, 2022


In a previous blog  I discussed the Palm Beach County Community Remembrance Project and how I came to serve on the coalition tasked with bringing the memorial to Palm Beach County.

One of the required elements in this process of memorializing the victims of terror lynchings, is to collect soil from the site of the lynchings. This symbolic act is best expressed by Bryan Stevenson, Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) Founder and Executive Director, who said:

“In this soil, there is the sweat of the enslaved. In the soil there is the blood of victims of racial violence and lynching. There are tears in the soil from all those who labored under the indignation and humiliation of segregation. But in the soil there is also the opportunity for new life, a chance to grow something hopeful and healing for the future.”

I am pleased to announce that the soil collection public ceremony for one of the victims of lynching in Palm Beach County, will take place on June 18, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. This will be part of the Juneteenth Celebrations at Pompey Park Gymnasium, 1101 NW 2nd Street, in Delray Beach. You are invited to attend.

The ceremony will remember Samuel Nelson who was lynched on September 26, 1926.

At that time, Mr. Nelson was being held in the Delray Beach jail on a charge of attempted assault of a white woman in Miami. The next morning, the steel door of his cell was found battered open and Samuel Nelson’s body was found riddled with bullets on a canal bank west of Delray Beach. No one was held accountable for his murder.

The soil collected from the lynching site will be preserved in glass jars to be displayed at:

  • the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery, Alabama
  • the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum in Delray Beach
  • and at sites around Palm Beach County (still to be determined)

To learn more about Samuel Nelson and the Palm Beach County Community Remembrance Project, visit pbcremembrance.org.

The soil collection ceremony for lynching victim Henry Simmons will take place at a later date.

Jewish Federation is planning to visit the EJI’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice on Federation’s Civil Rights Journey to Georgia and Alabama, November 13-15, 2022.


Read Josephine Gon’s JCRC blog to stay up to date about issues affecting the Jewish community of the Palm Beaches.