Savannah Shepherd

2020 - PENNSYLVANIA (PHILADELPHIA REGION)
Savannah Shepherd is a senior at Sanford School in Middleton, Delaware. In April 2018, after retiring from competitive gymnastics, she was afforded the life-changing opportunity to attend the opening of the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. There she learned about the lynching of George White and was inspired to share what she learned. Upon returning home to Delaware, she reached out to the Department of Public Archives to see if anything had ever been done to recognize this lynching. Because nothing had, Savannah led the official process to have a state marker erected in memoriam. She also completed the application process with the Equal Justice Initiative to participate in their Community Remembrance Project. Savannah engaged New Castle County community members and created the Delaware Social Justice Remembrance Coalition (DSJRC), a group of concerned citizens interested in acknowledging past incidents of racial terror in order to raise awareness on the importance of remembering past injustices and how those incidents impact life today. Savannah led coalition meetings, spoke at conferences, and met with legislators to educate, spread awareness, and build support. After 14 months of intense work and perseverance, on June 23, 2019, the 116th anniversary of the lynching, a soil collection ceremony and historical marker dedication took place at the site of the workhouse from where the victim was dragged. More than 200 community members turned out for this ceremony led by Dr. Howard Stevenson. Speakers included U.S. Senator Chris Coons, U.S. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, and State Senator Darius Brown, whose office funded the marker. Disappointingly, five weeks later the marker was stolen. Savannah, unwavering, led the effort to erect a new marker. She continues to work closely with the Equal Justice Initiative to educate the public and spearhead projects in her state.