"God bless you all I am a innocent man."

The last words Ed Johnson spoke before he was lynched from the county bridge in Chattanooga Tennessee in 1906 were true.

Your donation brings us closer to reaching our goals of creating a public space near the Walnut Street Bridge; providing scholarships for college sophomores majoring in criminal justice; and funding the documentary, “I Am a Innocent Man: the Ed Johnson Story” by Linda Duvoisin.

A Brief History

Unprecedented History

The story of Ed Johnson and his attorneys changed the course of justice in America forever with a series of historic precedents and legal firsts. Ed Johnson was the first African American awarded a stay of execution by the US Supreme Court.

Unjust Death

On March 19, 1906, Ed Johnson, was mob-lynched from the second span of the Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga.

Courageous Advocacy

Noah Parden and Styles Hutchens, two African-American attorneys from Chattanooga, provided a courageous and successful defense for Ed Johnson.

Judicial Precedent

US Supreme Court granted Johnson the country’s first stay of execution in a criminal case.  It was the first ruling by the Court to acknowledge the rights of the 14th amendment applied to an African American man.

See the Full History


The Scholarship

The Ed Johnson Memorial Scholarship is available to college sophomores of any race majoring in criminal justice.

The Memorial

Memorial: The Ed Johnson Memorial is a permanent public site that strives to promote racial healing and reconciliation by acknowledging the lynching of Ed Johnson, honoring the courageous work of his attorneys, and recognizing the resulting U.S. Supreme Court case  that established federal oversight of state-level civil rights issues.  We envision a welcoming, contemplative space adjacent to the Walnut Street Bridge—the site of the Ed Johnson lynching—where people of all backgrounds and cultures can come to learn, reflect, mourn and find inspiration.

The Documentary

I Am A Innocent Man: The Ed Johnson Story is a historical documentary that brings to light the heroic achievements of two African American lawyers from Tennessee, Noah Parden and Styles Hutchins who against all odds,  fought and won rights never before granted by the United States Supreme Court to any man, black or white.  What followed the high court's decision was a series of incredible and tragic events, resulting in the murder of their client Ed Johnson and the first and only criminal trial held by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Ed Johnson’s story is a vital part of the collective narrative of our country and one of the forgotten first steps in the long battle for civil rights in America

Ed Johnson Projects

Our Committee

CommitteeThe Ed Johnson Committee was formed in 2016, comprised of a group of citizens who believed the Chattanooga community needed to find a way to better tell the Ed Johnson story, a part of American history that change the justice system. The diverse group includes members who had previously contributed to remembering the Ed Johnson story by getting a state resolution passed, writing a play about him and maintaining the cemetery where he is buried.


Why I Got Involved in the Ed Johnson Project

By Eleanor McCallie Cooper My friend Dollie and I met at the Walnut Street Bridge to take a walk. We’d gotten no more than a few feet on the bridge when she said, “I can’t…I can’t walk across the Walnut St. Bridge without thinking about Ed Johnson.” She seemed reluctant to go further. I had […]

Ed Johnson Committee


Like so many other things, the Ed Johnson Project is built on the shoulders of giants. Lawyer and author Leroy Phillips spent years researching and writing the book Contempt of Court. Rev. Paul McDaniel was instrumental in having Ed Johnson’s name officially cleared by the Hamilton County court system. LaFrederick Thirkill was a tireless champion […]

Commemoration at the Walnut Street Bridge

Ed Johnson was lynched from the Walnut Street Bridge just before midnight on March 19, 1906. The angry crowd of armed men had worked for hours to break down the door of the jail, hammering away at the five rivets that held the steel-barred door in place. As they worked, the mob outside the jail […]

See all our news