Although Sophie Kloppenburg may be young, she has experience battling adversity in the name of remembering black history.
This 17-year-old boy had to overcome pushback as he began a project to honor the 7 black men who were killed in his hometown of Mount Vernon, Indiana, on the beach. Atlanta Black Star.
Calling Attention to the Darkness of Mount Vernon
While trying to test drive with her friend, Sophie begins to learn about Mount Vernon’s troubled history. Although the people of South Indiana were home, they had never heard of his dark past.
“We started talking about black history and everything, and he told me about the brutality that happened, and obviously I was shocked because I’ve been here my whole life and I didn’t know it happened.”
Over the course of three days in October 1878, a gang brutally murdered 7 men—Daniel Harrison Jr., John Harrison, Daniel Harrison Sr., Jim Good, William Chambers, Edward Warner, and Jeff Hopkins. CBS reports that the killing took place after the men were accused of rape. Additionally, it is important to note that the group hanged four men outside the Posey County courthouse.
As soon as she found out, Sophie checked to see if the court remembered what happened. However, he couldn’t find any mention of the massacre, so he started working on a change and a memorial.
Protesters Fight for a Clean History in Posey County
While Sophie’s quest to honor the victims is commendable, the community has not received it with open arms.
Since the Mount Vernon area is very clean, Sophie felt that many people were not affected by the project. Instead, he told a Atlanta Black Star that he appealed to the Posey County Commissioners office five at various times before agreeing to end the memorial.
Bryan Schorr, the district attorney, said that there was “a lot of uncertainty about getting the word out and making sure it’s accurate and getting people’s attention in a good way.”
Sophie also remembered some of the things she had allowed her work to do.
“I had to bring out, for me, a very important word like ‘lynched’. [and] ‘I’m harassed’…I couldn’t use that key word because it made people feel too comfortable.”
Kloppenburg was determined to bring back some changes, however.
“They also wanted me to not include the word African American in there, and I was like, no. What can we do to put this in if people don’t know that I’m killing people because of racism?”
All in all, Sophie achieved her goal, and she’s happy that the community feels free to “discuss the issues.”
“I’m proud of Posey County, Indiana, and the beautiful people here for having difficult conversations and giving a voice to the few. Thank you.”
Sophie Kloppenburg, 17, of Mount Vernon, Indiana, helped give seven black male victims the largest memorial in the state 144 years after what happened to them.
— Atlanta Black Star (@ATLBlackStar) November 19, 2022
Shout out to Sophie Kloppenburg for stepping up and setting up a memorial to honor the victims of the Mount Vernon lynchings.