George Meadows, Jan. 15, 1889, Birmingham, Near Pratt Mines

On the morning of January 15, 1889, George Meadows, a young African-American man, would find himself in the crosshairs of a violent moment that he would be unable to avoid. Little is known about his life. Did he have friends? A wife? People who would miss him if he vanished from the face of the earth? We can only make assumptions. We don’t know much about the life of George Meadows, but what we do know about is his death. 

On January 15, 1889, a mob of white men lynched George Meadows at Pratt mines and then riddled his body with bullets. Mr. Meadows was accused of assaulting a white woman, Mrs. Kellman. 

Photos were taken of his hanging body and distributed. Later, his body was brought to an undertaker and left out in the public for crowds to view. 

Mrs. Kellam had begged the mob not to lynch Mr. Meadows because she was unsure if he was the right man. The following day, the sheriff decided Mr. Meadows was not in fact the perpetrator of the crime and arrested another black man, Lewis Jackson. 

George Meadows was buried in a pauper’s grave in the old Red Mountain Cemetery. Today that land base has been transformed for the most part into Lane Park, home to the Birmingham Zoo and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. My hope is to locate the grave site of George Meadows if it still exists, or to ask the directors of one of those organizations to allow the creation of a site of remembrance at their facilities. 

Tony Bingham 

JCMP Advisor and Professor at Miles College


Selected Sources 

“A Prisoner’s Fate,” The Courier-Journal, March 20, 1888, page 2. 

“Murdered by Unknown Parties,” The Troy Messenger, March 18, 1888, page 2.