HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - A statue memorializing slain civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer was unveiled Monday morning in downtown Hattiesburg.
The bronze statue is the centerpiece of a new plaza at the Forrest County Courthouse that honors Dahmer and other civil rights leaders.
The sculpture was created by local artists Benn Watts and Vixon Sullivan. Funding for the piece was provided by the City of Hattiesburg, Forrest County and private donors. More than $120,000 public and private dollars were raised to make the statue a reality.
Dahmer, a Forrest County native, is best known for his work as a voting rights activist during the civil rights movement. He served two terms as president of the Forrest County NAACP.
Because of his work to register minorities to vote, Dahmer became a target of the Ku Klux Klan. Dahmer was killed in 1966 when Klansmen firebombed his home in Forrest County. His wife and children were able to escape the blaze.
Dahmer’s dedication to voting rights is memorialized on a wall near his statue. On the wall, a famous quote from Dahmer is etched into stone, “If you don’t vote, you don’t count.”