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Monument to Slain Voting Rights Activist Vernon Dahmer Unveiled in Downtown Hattiesburg

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On the lawn of the Paul B. Johnson Chancery Court building, where Forrest County Circuit Clerk and Registrar of Voters Theron Lynd once schemed to do everything in his power to stop the county’s Black residents from voting, a monument now stands to the slain voting rights activist who went head-to-head with him and other segregationists: Vernon Dahmer, who died helping his wife and children escape their home in 1966 as the Ku Klux Klan firebombed the house.

His widow, Ellie Dahmer, unveiled the statue before a crowd of hundreds who came out to honor her husband’s legacy in downtown Hattiesburg on January 6, 2020. After his death, she ran for and won a seat on the Forrest County Election Commission in 1992.

The base of the statue memorializes his words in large letters: “If you don’t vote, you don’t count.”

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