History of lynching work group to facilitate local community dialogue


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In 2019, the Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution acknowledging with profound regret, the existence and acceptance of lynching within the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The resolution was drafted and put forth by the Virginia Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission and the History of Lynching in Virginia Work Group to shed light on the long and painful history of lynching in Virginia.

The group will meet on Monday, Sept. 16, at 6 p.m., in Memorial Hall, located at 800 S. Main St. Organizers plan to facilitate a local community conversation about the past of racial terror. Harrisonburg will be the first city to host this meeting—other cities will include Charlottesville, Alexandria, Culpeper and others.

You can find all of the information about the mission of the group and its members here.

“The initiatives the working group are promoting are important because they intend to address the Virginia’s collective amnesia about its past of racial terror,” says Gianluca De Fazio, associate professor of justice studies at James Madison University. De Fazio provided the working group with the groundwork research to identify and document each lynching victim in Virginia with his digital archive documenting the lynching of thousands of people between the end of Reconstruction and the 1930s in the US South. In particular, the stories of all of the 104 known lynching victims who were killed in VA between 1877 and 1972, most of them African American men.

Members of the group, led by the commission’s chair, Sen. Jennifer McClellan, include legislative members, educators, historians, and community leaders to build upon and expand existing research and programming concerning VA’s history of lynching.

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