On Aug. 5, 1947, 19 men in Waxahachie were killed in a car accident while on their way to work. Now, a monument in Freedman Memorial Plaza will recognize those men.
The City of Waxahachie Parks Board approved the concept and design of the 8/47 Memorial on July 12.
The President and CEO of the Ellis County African American Hall of Fame Dr. Jamal Rasheed presented the proposed markup of the 8/47 Memorial. The display honors the 19 lives lost when a pickup truck traveling northbound on U.S. Highway 77 collided into a fuel truck — 18 of the men were from Waxahachie, and the driver resided in Ft. Worth.
“I call it the 9/11 of Ellis County,” Rasheed emphasized.
The memorial will be built on a slab across from the Ellis County African American Hall of Fame, located at the corner of M.L.K. Jr Boulevard and Wyatt Street. The cement peaking from the grass once housed Priscilla Wallace Hospital for African Americans. The hospital acted more like a clinic, and the overflow of patients would be seen in the second story of the Masonic Lodge, the now Ellis County African American Hall of Fame. The bottom floor was the mortuary.
“When the accident happened all 19 victims were brought to that location,” Rasheed relayed to the parks board.
The monument would be built on top of the 12-foot by 24-foot slab. The hands on the memorial will represent the 19 victims reaching up to heaven. Two-foot tall by two-foot round stools line a sidewalk that will lead up to the monument with each victim's name engraved. An American and Texas flag on 20-foot poles will stand on each side of the memorial.
“The Waxahachie Daily Light had written an article on this that drove up a lot of interest,” Rasheed shared. “I had a gentlemen call me from Bristol. He’d remembered his dad bringing him up to the scene of the accident right after it happened.”
Right now an exhibit in the Ellis County African American Hall of Fame displays the original photographs of the accident taken in 1947. “Slowly but surely people are giving me pictures of their loved ones. Right now out of 19, I have three pictures of victims on the wall,” Rasheed explained.
Rasheed is currently considering bids for a contractor. Rasheed said he hopes to conduct a symbolic groundbreaking at the memorial site and a candlelight ceremony at the location of the crash in August.
The majority of the memorial will be made of cement with bronze crosses and prayer hands. Rasheed researched the faiths of the victims, and all attend three Christian churches, Joshua Chapel AME Church, New Mt. Zion —now referenced as Greater New Mt. Zion — Samaria Missionary Baptist Church. Rasheed also mentioned that 18 of the bodies are buried in the Price Hall Fraternal Cemetery — five of them with grave markings.
The Waxahachie parks board approved the concept of the memorial but needed to double check if religious crosses could be on public, city property.
The Ellis County African American Hall of Fame is open on Saturdays from 9 a.m.—5p.m. and on Sundays from 1—5 p.m. Rasheed is currently searching for dedicated volunteers to help maintain the museum and provide tours. He also is requesting help with marketing, research and creating a website. Rasheed said these are ideal opportunities for historians and collegians seeking internships. To reach Rasheed, email email@example.com or call his cell phone at 469-337-7989.
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Related article: Son recalled 1947 crash that killed 19; Ellis County African American Hall of Fame commemorates lives
Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450