Historic Markers Across South Carolina

The Lynching of Willie Earle

Marker ID: SCHM 23-41
Location: Old Easley Rd. (S.C. Hwy. 124) & Bramlett Rd, Greenville, SC
County: Greenville
Coordinates: N 34° 50.692    W 082° 27.837
  34.84486666    -82.46395
Style: Free Standing **


The Willie Earle lynching was the last recorded in S.C. and the one of the last in the South. On the night of February 15, 1947, white cabdriver Thomas W. Brown was found mortally wounded beside his cab in Pickens County. Earle, a young black man, was thought to be Brown´s last passenger. He was arrested near Liberty on February 16, accused of assault and robbery, and held in the Pickens County Jail.

Early on February 17, 1947, a white mob forced the Pickens Co. jailer to give Earle up. They drove Earle back to Greenville, lynched him, and left his body on Bramlett Rd. Brown died later that day. The May 12-21 trial of 31 men, rare at the time, drew national attention. Though 26 men admitted being part of the mob, an all-white jury acquitted all defendants. Outrage led to new federal civil rights policies.

Erected by the Willie Earle Commemorative Trail Committee, 2010 [2011]


Time Magazine - SOUTH CAROLINA: Trial by Jury