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Martinsville dedicates memory stone to remember victim of race murder

A Rushville woman murdered while selling encyclopedias in Martinsville nearly 50 years ago for no other reason than she was black is being remembered in the town where she died.

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (WTHR) - Twenty-one-year-old Carol Jenkins-Davis was killed in Martinsville in 1968 for no other reason than she was black. The murder has long contributed to a racist image of the city. But Carol's life will be remembered forever now on the steps of city hall.

Mayor Shannon Kohl presented a memory stone to Carol's parents and family during a dedication ceremony Thursday afternoon. Another one just like it will sit at the entrance to city hall, remembering the woman from Rushville who was stabbed with a screwdriver and killed on her first day selling encyclopedias door-to-door. An arrest for her murder finally came in 2002, when the daughter of one of the killers came forward. The accomplice has never been identified.

"On behalf of the Martinsville community, we are profoundly sorry for what happened to Carol and for the pain and sadness and grief that followed her family and friends," Kohl told Carol's family during in the ceremony. "Her tragic death makes no more sense today than it did nearly 50 years ago."

Paula Bradley-Harrison, also African-American, was Carol's co-worker who was dropped off by a supervisor in a different part of Martinsville that same day. Carol never showed up at the meeting spot at the end of the day. Paula was hesitant to attend the ceremony due to Martinsville's reputation.

"Fifty years has gone past and hopefully there are new mindsets in this town now," Paula said. "We need to heal. We really do. It's very emotional."

"One of God's greatest commandments is love one another," said Laura Davis, Carol's sister, speaking for the family at the ceremony. "In Carol's 21 years, that was all she was ever about was love. And that is her challenge to each and every one of you is to love one another."

"What an honor to have you here, all of you here," Hoosier Harvest Church Senior Pastor Chris Page told the family during the ceremony. "This is a big deal. It doesn't solve everything. There's still a lot of work to do."

The memory stone reads:

"In Memory of Carol Jenkins-Davis. April 21, 1947- September 16, 1968. Carol's life had enormous value and promise. The Rushville and Martinsville Communities have joined together to honor Carol and recognize her family's love."

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