Vernon Dahmer was a successful and wealthy Black businessman from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I decided to blog about him for Black History Month because of his bravery and love for his family.
Vernon Dahmer was born in 1908 to a biracial mother and German father. Vernon was very sharp when it came to running a business and according to his family, he got his business sense from his father. His father taught him everything he knew because he himself was also a successful businessman.
Vernon was loved by many of the locals because he provided jobs to both Blacks and Whites. He was generous with his money, caring and was always looking for ways to help his community. Unfortunately for Vernon, his dealings with the NAACP and civil rights movement made him a marked man.
On January 10, 1966, a group of Klansmen torched Vernon’s home with gas jugs and gun fire. To distract the Klansmen from his wife and children, Vernon shot at them as he was literally being burned alive. As his wife and children ran to safety, Vernon stood firmly with his shotgun as the fire began to engulf him from the waste up.
Despite being severely burned, Vernon died from smoke inhalation and damage to his lungs. By standing in that fire to save his family, Vernon’s lungs were literally cooked from the inside. The fire destroyed his store, home and cars.
What struck me the most about Vernon’s tragic story is the fact that he was murdered out of pure jealously and hate. What’s even more unsettling is that some of the Klansmen responsible for his death escaped punishment and continued to brag about it for many years.
Until next time…