East Texan organizes walk to honor teen whose 1955 murder was ruled a hate crime

John Earl Reese

TATUM, Texas (KLTV) - Kevin Wittmayer is walking 19 miles in remembrance of John Earl Reese.

Reese, a black 16 year old, was shot at a café between Tatum and Longview by white men who were upset because there was going to be a black school built in the Mayflower community.

Reese died the next day at a Longview hospital. Wittmayer heard about the story of Reese while doing research and decided he would embark on the walk from Good Shepherd Hospital to Reese’s gravesite. Wittmayer sees this as a way for us to remember the event in history so we don’t repeat them.

“I ask myself where would I walk a spiritual pilgrimage in the United States and for me it the thing that came to mind was the of the martyr of the Civil Rights Movement. But I thought there has to be some place maybe local," he said. "I started researching Civil Rights martyr of East Texas and I heard about the story of John Earl Reese.”

Copyright 2020 KLTV. All rights reserved.