Location of Lynchings:
June 29, 1932
Born in 1897, Charles Miller was around thirty-five years old.
In the early morning of June 29, 1932, Lee County Sheriff William Samuel (“Buck”) Jones and a local shopkeeper deputized by the Sheriff, B. Roberts, visited Charles Green Miller, a Black resident of Opelika. The Sheriff had responded to a call that Mr. Miller shot at his brother-in-law, Taylor Mathews, and his wife (name not known), causing injuries to Mr. and Mrs. Matthews’ hands. When Sheriff Jones attempted to enter Mr. Miller’s front door, Mr. Miller shot and killed Sheriff Jones. Sheriff Jones' close granddaughter, Margaret Melson-Linch (age 12 in 1932) recalled that Sheriff Jones had not been expecting any trouble and that Mr. Miller was quickly remorseful saying, “Oh, Mr. Buck. I didn’t know it was you.” Mr. Miller immediately fled the house with his shotgun. The Opelika Daily News reported that “posses of officers and citizens were organized in record time” to find Mr. Miller. Two hours after Sheriff Jones’ death, a mob of officers and citizens found Mr. Miller in a corn field. The mob repeatedly shot Mr. Miller and took his body to the city where “crowds gathered around the body on the courthouse lawn.” This case exemplifies the ways that white community members worked with officers and operatives of the judicial system to deny due process rights through racial terror lynchings.
Thanks to the research by Auburn High School students and Research to Preserve African American Stories and Traditions (rPAAST), led by Dr. Robert Bubb, the Equal Justice Initiative has accepted this case (2021) to add to their documented racial terror lynchings in Lee County. Efforts to commemorate and remember the life of Charles Miller and the injustice he faced are being discussed. A soil dedication and historical marker, similar to that for John Moss, George Hart, Charles Humphries and Samuel Harris, are now also possible for Charles Miller, thanks to rPAAST for uncovering his case.
See below to read two essays on Charles Miller by Auburn High School students, done in partnership with rPAAST.