The monument pictured above memorializing the Ada, Oklahoma, lynching of 1909, has been put in public view once again. It was first erected in 1997 on private property in downtown Ada (close to the lynching site), at the expense of historian Bill James. However, the monument was removed by city workers and placed into storage during the aftermath of a fire in a nearby building in 2009. It was there the black granite stone remained until October 2014.
The memorial briefly describes the lynching of four men and it displays the infamous picture taken by photographer Noah B. Stall of the four men hanging. There is one detail on the monument, however, that no longer holds true. That is, “The four were taken to the Frisco Livery Barn only a few feet from this marker and lynched.” Unfortunately, this stone monument now sits in Box X Cemetery, which is located between Oil Center and Beebe. The Ada, Oklahoma, lynching memorial now sits more than 11 miles away from the location of the lynching and away from Ada.
Yes, I do realize that the organization (OKOLHA) which placed the memorial in Box X Cemetery most likely chose this location due to citizens’ opposition to having the monument in public view. And Box X Cemetery is certainly a respectable cemetery. But we are now living in a time in which history is being removed from our school books, flags are being burned, and monuments are being destroyed and/or removed from public view (as is happening in Oklahoma City). Bad events, such as the lynching in Ada, have certainly happened in the past, but shouldn’t memorials of these events be reminders to all of us and lessons to our children which help ensure history does not repeat itself? I would hope Ada residents would not join in with the, “That offends me! Take it down!” crowd that seems to be so prevalent these days. These fights which these monuments memorialize were fought in the past. We were supposed to learn from them and grow closer. We shouldn’t still be fighting them.
It’s history, folks! And history can’t be changed, but only respected and learned from. So leave it alone. And put the monument back in Ada, where it belongs.