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TODAY: Remembering the Legacy of Civil Rights Martyr Johnnie Mae Chappell at the Civil Rights Memorial Center

Wreath-laying at the Civil Rights Memorial Center observes 60th Anniversary of her murder

MONTGOMERY — Today at 5:00 p.m., the Civil Rights Memorial Center (CRMC), a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), will lay a wreath honoring civil rights martyr Johnnie Mae Chappell.

Johnnie Mae Chappell, a devoted mother of ten, tragically lost her life at the hands of white supremacists while searching for her lost wallet on a Jacksonville, Florida roadside. Her senseless murder shocked the conscience of the nation and fueled the ongoing civil rights fight in America. Though her life was cut short, her spirit of resilience and determination continues to inspire generations.

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what might have been had those racist killers not come upon my mother,” said her son Shelton Chappell. “I was only a couple months old when her life was brutally taken, but the lasting trauma of that moment continues to reverberate. But on this day, the 60th anniversary of her death, it is a time for remembrance to celebrate her legacy and the family that carries her spirit with us everyday.”

“The death of Mrs. Chappell is a towering loss to her family, community, and American society,” said Paula Johnson, director of the Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University. “The Chappell family's commitment is a testament to their strength and is a profound lesson about the power of love and legacy. We have been privileged to work with the Chappell family in their quest for racial justice and accountability. We look forward to continuing to work and walk with all Americans to remember Mrs. Chappell, to help this story to be heard, and to bring about changes that are necessary.”

“Mrs. Chappell was the tragic victim of a senseless shooting and a prejudiced and biased legal system,” said family attorney Robert Spohrer. “We were honored to stand shoulder to shoulder as we petitioned the governor, the Department of Justice, and others. On this 60th anniversary of the passing of Johnnie Mae Chappelle, take some comfort in knowing that every potential legal avenue to reopen this case was pursued.” 

Today's commemorative events include a private memorial dinner at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church Legacy Center, 454 Dexter Ave., Montgomery, AL 36104. To honor Johnnie Mae Chappell's enduring legacy the community will come together in remembrance and solidarity, providing an opportunity to reflect on her life, share stories, and reaffirm our commitment to justice and equality.

For more information, please ask for Shelton Chappell at any of the commemorative events.

WHO:             The Civil Rights Memorial Center and Shelton Chappell

WHAT:           Wreath-Laying Ceremony honoring civil rights martyr Johnnie Mae Chappell

WHEN:          Saturday, March 23, at 5:00 p.m. CT

WHERE:        The Civil Rights Memorial Center, 400 Washington Ave. in downtown Montgomery