City of DeLand commemorates lynching victim

Each shovel of dirt commemorated racism and injustice in the City of DeLand. 

Volusia County's black leaders collected soil from a site downtown Saturday near where a tree once stood, a tree where Lee Bailey, a 29-year-old black man, was lynched in 1891.

"It's important for me to do this so we don't repeat it in this country," said Daisy Grimes, executive chairman of the Volusia County African American Leadership Council.

The participants took the dirt and put it in two jars, marching it down the street to a park near the city's African American Museum of the Arts. 

There, they used it to plant a young sapling near the amphitheater, symbolizing growth and harmony stemming from the life that was cut short.

"These types of heinous acts should have never happened, never been supported, should have never been tolerated," said Capt. Prurince Dive, from the DeLand Police Department.

Historians say at the time when Lee Bailey was lynched, the City of DeLand looked very different than it does now and the old county jail stood on the site of what is now the County Administration Building. 

The county's black leaders say Volusia County needs to reconcile with its past. 

"As a student, I was afraid to come to DeLand and we were afraid to come over here because we were told that's where the Ku Klux Klan's at," Grimes said. "'Don't you go over there.'"

At the ceremony, they read the names of other African Americans who were victims of racial injustice, past and present. 

Grimes said it was time to end the hate. 

"That's what's so great about today," she said, "we're coming together today - black, white, brown - all coming together to say we're better than that in this country."