GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — A local group is working to bring awareness to a hate crime that happened in Guilford County in the 19th century.

After 4 years of searching, The Guilford County Community Remembrance Project group is still on the hunt for answers. The piece of history they’ve been working to uncover is the only recorded lynching to ever occur in Guilford County.

“His name was Eugene Hairston and he was killed at the age of 17 after being accused of assaulting a white woman,” said Carole Biggers, one of the members of GCCRP.

Guilford County newspapers from 1887 tell the story of Eugene awaiting trial in a Greensboro jail for this alleged crime. Articles show he was kidnapped by a white mob who took it upon themselves to serve justice.

“He was killed without any legal process. He was strung up and left hanging in the black community to serve as a symbol. A symbol of white supremacy and of the fact that to them black lives did not matter,” Biggers said.

Now, more than a century later GCCRP works under the equal justice initiative in Montgomery, Alabama to uncover the details of that story and share them with the community.

“It is a matter of knowing our history so that we don’t repeat it. And understanding how that history impacts the relationships between races today,” Biggers said.

The group is made up of people from different races who have committed themselves to researching and sharing Eugene’s story.

“It’s just important for us to all come together as a community and talk about the painful truths. We’re all human, nobody has a perfect past. So we can do better,” said Terry Hammond, another member of GCCRP

Terry says researching her own family history is what got her interested in this project.

“I’m an amateur genealogist and doing my own family history, researching my parents’ families, I discovered indeed there were slaveholders in my family, and even worse a third great uncle was involved in a lynching in Kentucky. And when I read that I was just horrified and I felt like I needed to take action. So this work has been something that I feel like I can do. I’ll never make up for the past, but I can try to affect the future,” Hammond said.

The group is also engaging the community in discussions about race, and having a few of their own along the way.

“Working with this group has really introduced me to in terms of working with others — different races, different ages that I need to listen more carefully, I need to check my responses, my defensiveness, leave that at the door. Sometimes that’s been hard. It’s a growing experience, I’ve learned a lot,” Hammond said. “There’s a lot of times the perception of the good old days and we just want to forget about the bad stuff and don’t talk about it. Let’s just move ahead. But you really can’t move ahead until you confront the bad from the past.”

This is just the beginning for this group. Their next step is to work with EJI to plan a soil collection ceremony at the present-day location where they think Eugene’s murder happened.