The Play I Had to Write About the Murder That Haunted Me

To Forget Is to Remain Trapped in Purgatory, but Reimagining Horror Can Bring Catharsis

Mary Turner.

That name is forever etched into my memory … into my existence, as an artist, a writer, a woman, a mother, a human being.

On May 19, 1918, in Valdosta, Georgia, Mary Turner and a group of black men were killed in a mob-driven manhunt. Hampton Smith, a white landowner, known for being a harsh boss to his Negro employees, was shot and killed by a young black man named Sidney Johnson. Because they had met Sidney at their home, the crime was linked to Hayes and Mary …