Dedication service for Southwest Georgia woman, executed in 1945
Wed, 12 Jan 2011 16:42:39 GMT —
Dozens of people attended a tombstone dedication ceremony in Cuthbert Wednesday for Lena Baker. She is the only woman to ever be executed in the Georgia electric chair.
In an emotional day for family and supporters Baker's grave received an upgrade with a new headstone. It came 65-years after baker's death.
"This is one of the greatest days in my life. The headstone means a lot to me," said Bakers great-nephew Roosevelt Curry.
"I really wanted to do a proper dedication because it's a very significant and important piece of history," said Ralph Wilcox, director of the Lena Baker Story motion picture
The family says that with this new tombstone, they hope to educate more people about Lena Baker's story. They want more people to come visit this gravesite and eventually hope it'll become a tourist destination.
Baker, a black maid, was convicted in a one-day trial for killing a white man in 1944 and executed a year later. She received a pardon in 2005 after her family pointed out she likely killed the man because he was holding her against her will.
"In her effort to one day try to get free there was a gun fight, where he pulled a gun on her and he was killed and there was a trial, she was arrested and the trial lasted all but four hours. She was found guilty and she was sent to the electric chair," said Wilcox.
Baker's descendents fought to prove that she killed in an act of self-defense. They were eventually proven right and baker was granted a full pardon in 2005.
Curry said Baker was "somewhere around God's throne and can look down and smile" after the pardon. The dedication comes amid renewed attention about Baker's plight. A DVD of the film "The Lena Baker Story" was also released this month.
Representative Sanford bishop was scheduled to attend the Lena Baker dedication, but Bishop had business in Washington.
He did send a representative to read an entry for baker that will be placed in the congressional record.
Bishop also read the entry on the house floor today.
"This will actually be his first congressional record entered into the 112th Congress, so it's extremely significant in terms of our office, but to have yourself and your life entered into the congressional record is one of the highest honors bestowed in the House of Representatives," said James Crozier from Rep. Bishop's office.
Copies of the entry were given to the church where baker is buried and to her family.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.