NEWBURGH – Governor Kathy Hochul was in Newburgh on Wednesday to recognize two great injustices. Two black men were lynched in Orange County in the 1800s and community leaders teamed up with Hochul to expose the history.
On June 21, 1863, a black man by the name of Robert Mulliner was falsely accused of rape in Newburgh. He was taken from police custody by a mob and lynched on the courthouse lawn.
In Port Jervis, a well-known black man, Robert Lewis, was falsely accused of rape in 1892. On June 2nd of that year, an unruly mob took Lewis from the police, beat, stabbed, and lynched him.
“From this day forward we will know their names,” said Hochul before unveiling historic markers that will be placed at the two sites. Hochul said the markers will help tell the whole history, not just the history that people are not ashamed of.
Port Jervis Mayor Kelly Decker called the unveiling a “learning day.” Decker is a seventh-grade teacher. “This is a defining moment in our time that we are able to say ‘hey, this happened in Port Jervis, this happened in Newburgh,’ we don’t want it to happen again!”
State Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson also touched on the historic symbols. “There is a famous quotation that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. That’s why today was so important.”
Ray Harvey, president of the Newburgh-Highland Falls NAACP, is credited with working with local and state officials to have the history of the hate crimes recognized.
Mayor Decker noted that the two incidents were the only lynchings that occurred in New York.