A badge, sunglasses, and a nameplate. These three objects, on display at the National Law Enforcement Museum, belonged to Lucius Amerson, the first African-American elected as sheriff in the deep south since Reconstruction.
Amerson became sheriff of Macon County, AL, in the late 1960s. Before that, the largely African-American population in Macon County was not able to vote for their sheriff.
Rebecca Looney, Senior Director of Exhibits and Programs are the National Law Enforcement Museum, says Amerson was an Army veteran and became sheriff following passage of the Voting Rights Act. She tells us that many saw his election as a sign of progress for Black Americans fighting for equality and against police brutality.
While Sheriff Amerson’s story represents a defining moment in law enforcement history, today police departments nationwide acknowledge that recruiting and maintaining a diverse force is still a challenge. Recent headlines have focused on the Black Lives Matter movement and the lack of trust between police and the public.
Craig Floyd is the CEO of the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund. He says, “We are going to have thoughtful, important conversations between the public and law enforcement right here in the National Law Enforcement Museum.”
The museum hopes sharing the stories of Sheriff Lucius Amerson, as well as the stories of men and women of all races who have given their lives in the line of duty, will help visitors better understand the vital role diversity plays in keeping our communities safe.