Digital First: Statue of Civil Rights leader Vernon Dahmer placed in front of Forrest County Courthouse

Pine Belt

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Under this cover is a new, handmade, bronze statue of Civil Rights leader Vernon Dahmer. The statue sits outside the Forrest County Courthouse.

Vixon Sullivan explained, “Like I said I felt like it was an honor I feel like I had to live up to the expectations, I feel like I had to do a very good job. And I feel like I had to really represent what he stood for. One of his famous quotes is if you don’t vote you don’t count.”

Dahmer served two terms as the Forrest County Chapter President of the NAACP, and he held voter registration drives in the 1960s.

He made radio announcements that he would help pay the poll tax for African Americans to have the right to vote if they couldn’t afford to pay the tax.

“That was really my inspiration behind this right. This guy really made a difference in his community. He cared about the people right around him, and I really wanted to channel and understand what it means to be a community man and sacrifice the way that he did,” said Sullivan.

Dahmer was killed when members of the Ku Klux Klan firebombed his home in 1966.

The sculpture of the Civil Rights leader took almost a year to complete. Both artists had to build a connection with Dahmer’s history to truly capture his likeness.

“I study and I study all my subjects but that story is phenomenal the way he saved his whole family and then died. I can’t imagine being hated so much to drive somebody to do something like that,” Ben Watts explained.

The sculpture is expected to be dedicated on January 6, 2020, just days before the 54th anniversary of Dahmer’s death.

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