This would lead to a sequence of events that seemingly had nothing to do with Gilbert, or with his surprising success for a Black farmer in rural Georgia in the 1940s, but it would eventually end in his lynching.
Gilbert was beaten, tortured and killed in a jail cell, after being arrested without any evidence that he had committed a crime. His death is a searing example of the racial injustice that has led to the death of Black men throughout American history.
Researchers at the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, or CRRJ, at Northeastern University's School of Law uncovered Gilbert's story. As law students at the time, Tara Dunn and Ariel Kong proved that Gilbert was lynched and that the legal records lacked evidence for any wrongdoing on his part.
Their work led to an official apology from the current sheriff of Harris County, Georgia. All of their research was conducted under the supervision of CRRJ Founder Margaret Burnham.
Gilbert's granddaughter joined ABC 7 Chicago Sunday to talk about her grandfather.
"The Lynching of Henry 'Peg' Gilbert" is a production of ABC 7 Chicago and the Northeastern University School of Journalism.