‘This should not have happened’: Volusia County working to honor lives of lynching victims

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — Lee Snell’s life ended horrifically.

The Volusia County man was one of the more than 3,400 Black people that the NAACP said were killed in lynchings in a matter of decades.

Starting on Wednesday, a group in Volusia County began the process of getting those who were killed in acts of violence and racial injustice, like Lee Snell, honored inside the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

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The Volusia Remembers Coalition is working to bring Snell’s story back to the forefront 82 years after his death.

Snell, a World War I veteran and taxicab owner, hit and killed a young boy who darted in front of his cab. He was on his way to jail back in 1939 when records show the boy’s brothers stopped the transport and shot and killed Snell on the spot.

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The men were acquitted.

Snell is one of five lynching victims the coalition identified in Volusia County through its partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative.

“We are trying to bring a bit of dignity to this young man,” said Daisy Grimes, with the coalition.

About four miles outside the city limits of Daytona Beach on Old Deland Road, members of the coalition began to collect some soil from the spot where Snell was killed.

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A sample of the soil will join those displayed at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and his name will also be added to the memorial.

“He was a human being who was well loved and respected and this should not have happened,” Grimes said.

The coalition is working with city and county leaders to get a marker up at the spot where Snell was killed and do the same for the other four lynching victims in the county as well.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.