In late May 1918 in Valdosta, Georgia, ten Black men and one Black woman—Mary Turner, eight months pregnant at the time—were lynched and tortured by mobs of white citizens.
Through hauntingly detailed full-color artwork and collage, Elegy for Mary Turner names those who were killed, identifies the killers, and evokes a landscape in which the NAACP investigated the crimes when the state would not and a time when white citizens baked pies and flocked to see Black corpses while Black people fought to make their lives—and their mourning—matter.
Included are contributions from C. Tyrone Forehand, great-grandnephew of Mary and Hayes Turner, whose family has long campaigned for the deaths to be remembered; abolitionist activist and educator Mariame Kaba, reflecting on the violence visited on Black women’s bodies; and historian Julie Buckner Armstrong, who opens a window onto the broader scale of lynching’s terror in American history.
All royalties from this book go to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA.
“In this particular historical moment when young Black people are engaged in a renewed struggle against state violence, Mary Turner’s story resonates. She insists that we #SayHerName too.”
“Harrowing … This succinct work confronts readers with atrocity, in a necessary tribute.”
“Retells the story [of Mary Turner’s murder] in a manner at once unflinching, and, at turns, delicate. The delicacy is owed to Williams’ rendering.”
“Essential … Williams doesn’t just deplore unspeakable evil or try to argue with it. She confronts it in its own realm—the realm of art.”
“Elegy for Mary Turner brings America’s brutal history of 20th century lynching alive through Mary Turner.”