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The Ring: Carla Peacher-Ryan Matching Donation Campaign

Raised toward our $15,000 Goal
45 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on November 03, at 11:59 PM CDT
Project Owners

The Ring: Matching Fundraising Campaign

Set in prongs that stoically bore the weight of the massive stone,

Enriched by the enslavement of Black men in the 1930s,

A white man bought the massive diamond for his beloved bride.

Generations later, a family member discovers the enslavement.

The massive diamond ring now sparkles on the future of the Hooks Institute.

Read the Story Below

What would you do if you inherited a precious family heirloom only to discover a dark history attached to it? That's exactly what happened to Carla Peacher-Ryan.

Carla Peacher-Ryan inherited a stunning 4-carat European-cut diamond ring from her Aunt Virginia, who had received it from her stepmother, Miss Mary. The family had no idea about the ring's origin and assumed that it was Miss Mary's engagement ring from her first husband before she married Carla's grandfather. 

One night in 2018, Carla was attending a meeting of the Lynching Sites Project of Memphis, an organization dedicated to researching, locating, and memorializing lynching victims in Shelby County, Tennessee. During the meeting, a fellow researcher told her about a Peacher family member she had discovered in her research who was convicted in 1936 of enslaving African American men for his own benefit. Curious, Carla turned to the internet and discovered that this person was Paul Peacher, her paternal grandfather's brother.

Peacher had received a contract from the school district to clear some land, sell the timber, and make the land suitable for farming. Two weeks later, he acquired workers for this undertaking by arresting 13 African American men in Earle, and charging them with vagrancy. Some were sitting on their own porches.  The men were taken to jail and when they refused to plead guilty, were jailed, for 2 days, without food except what their families brought them. Earle’s mayor/judge, T.S. Mitchell quickly found the accused guilty, and, regardless of whether or not the men had money or jobs, imposed fines, and sentenced them to thirty days of labor at Peacher’s land-clearing operation, where armed guards prevented any escape and a bunk house with bars had been constructed specifically for this purpose. When he was later put to trial, Paul Peacher was convicted.

Upon researching further, Carla discovered that Miss Mary's first husband, who gave Miss Mary the ring, was none other than T.S. Mitchell. After much thought and discussion with her family, Carla decided to sell the diamond ring and donate the $15,000 in auction proceeds to the Hooks Institute, an organization dedicated to addressing racial terror and social injustice. 

The donation will serve as a lead gift for a matching funds initiative to support the institute's research, documentaries and programs, and the Hooks African American Male Initiative (HAAMI) and A Seat at the Table (ASATT). HAAMI focuses on increasing the retention and graduation rates of African American students at the University of Memphis (UofM). ASATT seeks to empower UofM women students by introducing them to professional careers and mentoring networks. 

Will you join Carla in supporting the Hooks Institute's vital work towards a more just society? 

Help us raise $15,000 to match the generous donation from Peacher-Ryan by donating to our campaign today!

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