Albemarle County, Charlottesville unveil John Henry James historic marker
Albemarle County and Charlottesville officials, in partnership with the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center and the Albemarle-Charlottesville Community Remembrance Project, unveiled a historic marker memorializing John Henry James, who was lynched in Albemarle County on July 12, 1898.
The marker is located at Court Square, beside the historic Albemarle County Circuit Court and in close proximity to Number Nothing and the Slave Auction Block, at the corner of East Jefferson Street and Park Street.
“Today marks a moment in which we draw our joy from the sorrow of our past,” remarked Albemarle County Supervisor Diantha McKeel. “As we gather on this historic ground where our community seeks justice under the law, we must confront its absence on this day 121 years ago, when John Henry James was brutally murdered. Today, we shine the light of truth, and are united around a shared vision of a future community committed to repair, bonded in love, in resilience, and in joy.”
“Say his name: John Henry James! We are intentionally honoring Mr. James -121 years after his death. Albemarle and Charlottesville decided to begin the process of healing,” shared Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker. “We see modern day injustices still plague Black people in our area. One of the steps to undoing the damage that has continued for over a century, is to acknowledge uncorrected wrongs. By memorializing Mr. James, we allow his spirit to rest and begin the process of unburdening ourselves from the delinquency of his unsolved murder. This memorial will bring healing energy to our area, and hopefully, implore us to make better daily decisions.”
Following remarks, attendees processed to the marker for its unveiling and enjoyed ice cream, a nod to Mr. James’ entrepreneurship as an ice cream salesman.
The Albemarle-Charlottesville Community Remembrance Project began in July 2018, when the two jurisdictions approved resolutions supporting participation in the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) Community Remembrance Project. EJI’s Community Remembrance Project was founded to recognize victims of lynching nationally by collecting soil from lynching sites, erecting historical markers, and creating memorials that recognize racial injustice. The marker installed uses EJI’s template, with the details of the lynching of John Henry James on one side and a broader description of lynching in America on the reverse side.