MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — In 1948, Rayfield Davis was brutally beaten and killed by a white man on his way home from work. Davis’ story is just like many other Black men at the time, where the murderer was let off for being white. This is his story.

WKRG News 5 is looking back at the crimes that shocked the Gulf Coast. Rayfield Davis’ story is the third in the series.

On March 7, 1948, Rayfield Davis, 53, was leaving work heading home from his shift at Brookley Air Force Base when he ran into Horace M. Miller, according to The Washington Post. Miller, 20, told reporters at the time that Davis asked Miller if he wanted to come to his house for drinks. Reports say Miller was “appalled” that a “Negro” would ask that and he refused. Miller claimed that Davis then went on a rant about civil rights and racial equality.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Miller admitted to hitting Davis after Davis, “kept making [him] madder.” Miller said he thought Davis had a weapon, which made him intensify the attack. Miller had beat Davis to death.

At the time, Miller said he did not know that he had beat Davis to death. Miller said he found out he had killed Davis when he read reports of a Black man that was found dead in a ditch. Davis had sustained extreme swelling and a cut above his upper lip, according to the coroner’s report.

Miller was charged with murder and given a $2,500 bond. Prosecutors took Miller’s signed statement of confession to a grand jury, however, the jury declined to indict him. According to The Washington Post, it wasn’t uncommon during the time for white people to get out of going to jail for crimes committed against Black people.

In 2019, a historical marker was erected and placed on South Broad Street by the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project. According to the Historical Marker Database, the marker is meant to remember the lives lost during the segregation era in Mobile. It lists many people, including Henry Williams, Johnny Williams, Ennis Bell, Theodore Wesley Samuels and Prentiss McCann.

An Associated Press report from July 2020 claimed the historical marker was missing. Although AP did not have a follow-up, the Historical Marker Database claims the marker was “damaged/repaired and reinstalled in 2020.”

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