HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark — Sunday afternoon civic leaders and community members came together to dedicate the Elaine Massacre Memorial.
What took place though was much more than a dedication, it was a new beginning for the Phillips County community.
“Hopefully it means healing for this community,” said Brian Miller, a native of Helena.
This week marks one hundred years of a painful part of Arkansas’ history.
“We don’t want to not talk about what happened here,” Arkansas Rep. French Hill said.
When the massacre of hundreds of black Arkansans on the Delta farmland took place.
“It was a mystery to some degree about how many people were murdered that night, how did it start, what were the ramifications of it,” Rep. Hill said.
Miller said despite the wonders of what took place in 1919, Sunday was all about forgiveness.
“No anger, no recriminations, none of that. It’s meant for us to come together and finally move forward as a community,” he said.
Miller said they are coming together to discuss an event that was kept silent for so many years.
“I have so many friends here whose family members were on the other side. We never talk about it,” he said.
This piece of rock sparking those conversations for Miller, whose four great uncles died in the Elaine Massacre.
“We are not going to relive the past, we are going to recognize the past and recognize what our family members have done and we are going to work together,” he said.
Miller said this new memorial represents a grave for all of those people who were never found.
“Although this memorial does not have individual names on it. It’s essentially that memorial for my great uncles,” he said.
Everyone emphasized that this marks a new beginning for Phillips County.
“You have to understand your history in order to not repeat it and learn from it and build a better society,” Hill said.
All in all, the main message on Sunday was that this memorial starts the healing process and forgiveness.