Ed Johnson Memorial Dedication events kick off Sept. 16

Alumni, students, scholars and leaders of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga are part of a landmark series of events honoring the dedication of a memorial to a man at the center of a tragedy in Chattanooga history and offering lessons learned toward healing and reconciliation.

The Ed Johnson Memorial Dedication is a multi-day series of programs and presentations from Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 16-19, in Chattanooga.

The community is invited. Events explore the story of Ed Johnson, the victim of a lynching off the Walnut Street Bridge in 1906, through the lens of history, art, storytelling and remembrance.

Among UTC’s connections to the memorial events is LaFrederick Thirkill, a longtime Hamilton County educator, 1997 UTC graduate and a leading advocate for telling Johnson’s story.

Chattanooga native and UTC Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Engagement Stacy Lightfoot was involved in conversations from the start of planning for the Johnson memorial and, in spring, 12 UTC Honors College students captured Johnson’s story in a five-part serial podcast as part of a semester-long course, Storytelling Through Podcasts, led by instructor Will Davis.

Organizers behind the Ed Johnson Project have shared plans for the commemoration with listeners of WUTC-FM’s Scenic Roots with Ray Bassett.

Extensive support also has come from the UTC Department of History and Africana Studies program, associate professors Michael Thompson and Susan Eckelmann Berghel and students of both who have served as interns with the Ed Johnson Project over the years.

Longtime Hamilton County educator and 1997 UTC graduate LaFrederick Thirkill kneels at Ed Johnson’s grave in Pleasant Gardens Cemetery.