KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Beck Cultural Exchange Center is continuing the fight for justice for Maurice Mays by asking the Governor to exonerate him of the first-degree murder charge from 1919 that led to his execution.
The summer of 1919 is known as the “Red Summer” because of race riots that broke out in at least 26 cities across the United States, according to the World War II Museum and Memorials. One of those riots took place in Knoxville and centered around the case of Maurice Mays.
104 years ago on August 30, 1919, a white woman, Bertie Lindsey, 27, was shot and killed allegedly by a Black intruder in her home, the Beck Center said. According to the center, Lindsey’s cousin identified Maurice Mays as the black man who killed her cousin, which prompted the race relations climate in Knoxville to take a bloody turn.
Mays was executed for the murder in Nashville Tennessee on March 15, 1922, at the age of 35.
The Beck Center said the death toll of the Knoxville Race Riot remains unknown, but Mays’ case stood at the center of the riot.
Now, the center is working with a legal team to request the Governor to posthumously exonerate Mays on the grounds that he was wrongfully accused, wrongfully convicted and wrongfully executed.
“The time has at long last come to repudiate the racism and prejudice that led to his unjust arrest, conviction and execution nearly one hundred years ago,” The Beck Cultural Exchange Center wrote on its website.
The Beck Cultural Exchange Center said anyone interested in joining them on their fight to see Mays exonerated can fill out a quick form on their website.