100 years after lynching of Black teen, Chatham County Board of Commissioners apologizes

PITTSBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Chatham County Board of Commissioners formally apologized for its possible complicity in the murder of a 16-year-old Black boy in 1921.

On Sept. 18, 1921, teen Eugene Daniel was unlawfully taken from the Chatham County jail in Pittsboro and lynched by a mob. Daniel's life was stolen without a trial over unsubstantiated allegations.

According to Chatham County Board of Commissioners today, there is evidence suggesting a county commissioner, the county sheriff, the county coroner and the county jail keeper at the time were all complicit in allowing the lynching to take place.

Daniel was ripped from his jail cell, shot multiple times and hanged from a tree. No investigation ever took place to figure out how that happened. It's a pattern that's all too familiar to students of U.S. history, especially in the South after the Civil War.

RELATED | Wake County Sheriff apologizes to innocent man who deputies tried to lynch in 1952
EMBED More News Videos

Lynn Council is now 86, but remembers what happened to him in 1952 like it was yesterday.

But 100 years later, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to formally apologize.

"The lynching of Eugene Daniel is a painful part of Chatham County's history, and while our apology can't change what happened, we feel it is an important step in helping his family and our entire community heal," said Chatham County Commissioner Karen Howard, who read the resolution. "I am deeply grateful for my fellow commissioners and our supportive staff who helped make this happen. Taking actions like this demonstrates our steadfast commitment to make the Chatham community a better place today - and welcoming to everyone."

Descendants of Daniel held a vigil in his honor last month.
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.