Lynchings by County (click for details)

Racial Terror: Lynching in Virginia is an ongoing research project examining one of the darkest, yet almost forgotten, pages of American history: the lynching of thousands of people in the US South. In particular, this website focuses on telling the stories of all the known lynching victims who were killed in Virginia between 1866 and 1932, most of them African American men. Even though a small number of the victims of mob violence were white, lynching was essentially a form of state-sanctioned terrorism against African Americans – almost none of the lynchers ever faced trial, and even fewer were indicted for their crimes. Lynching was indeed a key institution in the preservation of white supremacy in the Jim Crow South.

In addition to telling the stories of lynching that so often have been erased from local histories and collective memories, this website also stores almost 600 historical newspaper articles describing those barbaric acts of ‘popular justice’. These articles are available for anyone to read and use for their own research. A map of Virginia is also provided to display where each lynching occurred.

As this project is a work in progress, the website will be periodically updated with information about events, sources, tools to explore the database, as well as in-depth investigations of single lynchings and analysis of geographical, temporal and sociological patterns of racial violence in Virginia.

 

30 Comments

  1. Upsettingly informative website. Well-designed and articulated. There is an artist, Vincent Valdez, who’s work is illuminating of the Mexican-American lynchings of the west and south west also around this time. Here is a link to his page: http://www.vincentvaldezart.com/work/the-strangest-fruit/1 This is a painting series specifically. Incredibly hyper-realistic with a similarly haunting personality as your work. Kind of a forgotten history, as lynching is typically associated with black-Americans.

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    • Nicki, thank you for your comment and for sharing the link to Vincent Valdez’s website. Lynching in the US South is part of a larger history of collective violence against racial minorities, including the lynching of Mexican-Americans, especially near the US-Mexico border, and in California. This map (http://www.monroeworktoday.org/explore/map2/indexif.html) powerfully captures the history and geography of racial violence against nonwhites in the United States.

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      • On this topic, I also highly recommend the academic book “Forgotten Dead. Mob Violence against Mexicans in the United States, 1848-1928” by William D. Carrigan and Clive Webb.

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  2. The Northeast Neighborhood Association of Harrisonburg, VA would like to thank the filmmakers of “An Outrage” and Dr. Gianluca De Fazio of JMU for welcoming our participation in the screening and discussion on lynching in the American South at Madison Hall on 3/13/18. We were proud to announce that we will be working with Dr. De Fazio, local officials and community partners in properly memorializing Charlotte Harris, an African-American woman lynched in the Harrisonburg area in 1878.

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  3. Having recently read about the new Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL, I wondered about lynchings in Rockingham County, where I live. I found this website by Googling. Thank you for this painful, disturbing but critically necessary information. Only by acknowledging the terrible past can we resolve to create a better future.

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    • Chris,
      I believe I took a photo yesterday of this county’s monument at the Montgomery memorial. If you email me, I will send the photo. Each memorial has each’s victim’s name and date of lynching cut into the bar.N

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  4. Thank you so much for this! Nelson County wants to take our place in history and work with The Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL Thank you for your help with this!!

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    • Karen, thank you for your interest in this project. I hope this will help Nelson county to work with The Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery to commemorate the victims of lynching. Please let me know if I can be of further help.

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  5. Do you know of any research uncovering the relationship between confederate monuments and lynchings? For example did the number of lynchings rise following the erection of a monument?

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    • Lori, I am not aware of studies directly linking the erection of Confederate monuments with lynchings. However, the historical record is pretty clear in showing that these monuments were a celebration of white supremacy and a reminder of the racial caste system in the US South. This article by Fitz Brundage provides an excellent overview of the link between Confederate monuments and their role in propping Jim Crow: https://tinyurl.com/yc6vmma8 . Hope this helps, Gianluca

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    • Emily, thank you for sharing this information. The website currently documents lynchings occurred between 1877 and 1927: the lynching you mentioned has happened before then. At any rate, we are currently expanding the database to include lynchings that occurred before 1877 and after 1927. The lynching of Joseph Holmes is one of the cases we are currently working on. Thanks for your interest in this project! Gianluca

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  6. I’m trying to find information about an Edward Brown who lived in the Charlottesville VA area and was reportedly lynched around April-May 1918. He was the father of civil rights leader Drewary Brown for whom Drewary Brown West Main Street Bridge in Cville is named. I do not know if it happened in Cville area or out of town or out of state where he was working. i’d appreciate any help you may be able to provide. I’m not finding death certificate nor local news articles about it. Brown was working on job involving explosives when a white co-worker was killed. Brown reportedly blamed for not warning white man and thus held responsible for his death & lynched.
    see http://www2.vcdh.virginia.edu/afam/raceandplace/orals/dbrown.html

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    • Dear Kay, this is the first time I hear about this story, I’ll look into it. Thank you for bringing it to my attention, Gianluca

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  7. I seem to remember that Virginia had its own counterpart to the Scottsboro Boys, but have not been able to locate information on this.

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  8. Vangie Williams, the Democratic candidate for VA district 1 U.S Representative in 2018, received a letter that told of a lynching in 1948 in Kilmarnock, VA. The writer’s mother had told the story of her cousin getting beheaded because he was trying to register voters in Kilmarnock.

    The campaign sent around a slightly redacted pdf copy of the letter. I know this is third-hand at best. I’d like to send you the pdf, but your comment widget doesn’t provide for attachments. Give me an address I can send it to, and I’ll forward it. I’m particularly interested to know if such a thing happened at such a late date in the Northern Neck.

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    • Dear Randy, thank you for your comment. I am not aware of this case, but please send me any material you might have to defazigx@jmu.edu . Thanks! Gianluca

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      • I am very interested in your project Could you have someone on your staff reach out to me. Thank you

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  9. Ms. Charlotte Harris was lynched by a white mob in Harrisonburg-Rockingham County in March of 1878. The 1878 lynching of Ms. Charlotte Harris is the only documented case of the lynching of an African American woman in all of Virginia’s history.

    NENA – Art Intervention
    youtu.be/_Lb1PuvQSEQ

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  10. Your entry on Joe William Anderson states that the lynching occurred in Louisa, but the link on the map is in Orange County, the county above Louisa County.

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    • Reggie, thank you for your note. We will edit the map to reflect the correct county.

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  11. I think you will be interested in an article about Joseph R. Holmes that I had published in the Charlotte (VA) Gazette. I am in the process of getting an historic highway marker from DHR memorializing Mr. Holmes, to be placed on our Courthouse Green. I’m including a link to the article, or I can send you a manuscript copy. You have an interesting and, sadly, much needed website. Thank you for it!
    https://m.thecharlottegazette.com/2020/02/17/a-murder-in-charlotte-court-house/

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    • Kathy, Thank you for your article and your research on Joseph Holmes.

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  12. I don’t see Nat Turner listed for Southampton County. I don’t think his controversial nature should exclude him.

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    • Dear Ian, our project only goes as far back as 1866.

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  13. change will come when we fight for it. God bless. Thank you for the information.

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