History of Lynching

in Virginia


About the Work Group


The History of Lynching in Virginia Work Group, formed in 2018, is a work group of the Virginia Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission. Its purpose is to shed light on the long and painful history of lynching in the Commonwealth of Virginia by compiling and documenting the names and stories of victims of lynching in Virginia, creating programmatic outreach that will bring awareness of this history to communities across the Commonwealth, and assisting communities in their efforts to memorialize victims of lynching. 

In 2019, the Virginia General Assembly passed SJ 297 (McClellan) and HJ 655 (McQuinn), acknowledging with profound regret the existence and acceptance of lynching within the Commonwealth. Virginia is the first state to pass such a resolution. The resolution, drafted and put forth by the Commission and the Work Group, charges the Commission with:

• Making as complete a record as possible of each documented lynching that occurred in the Commonwealth;
• Developing programming to bring awareness and recognition of the history of lynching to communities across the state; and
• Coordinating with the Department of Historic Resources to identify sites for historic markers to recognize documented lynchings and assisting the Equal Justice Initiative in its Community Remembrance Project in the Commonwealth.

The Work Group will carry out this work with and on behalf of the Commission. 


Members of the Work Group

The History of Lynching work group brings together legislative members, educators, historians, and community leaders to build upon and expand existing research and programming concerning Virginia's history of lynching. Members of the group, led by the Commission's chair, Senator Jennifer McClellan, include:

  • Rabbi Bruce Aft, visiting scholar at George Mason University's Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution
  • Dr. Edward Ayers, historian, author, and President Emeritus of the University of Richmond
  • Hannah Ayers, co-director of the documentary An Outrage
  • Dr. Gianluca De Fazio, Assistant Professor of Justice Studies at James Madison University and creator of the research project Racial Terror: Lynching in Virginia, 1877-1927
  • Dr. Andrea Douglas, Director of the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
  • Senator Adam Ebbin, 30th District (Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County)
  • Brenda Edwards, retired Senior Research Associate at the Virginia Division of Legislative Services and staff for the Virginia Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission
  • Dr. Matthew Gibson, Executive Director of Virginia Humanities
  • Dr. Gregg Kimball, Director of Educational and Outreach Services at the Library of Virginia
  • Dr. Lauranett Lee, historian, Visiting Lecturer at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Professional and Continuing Studies at the University of Richmond
  • Senator Mamie Locke, 2nd District (Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, and York)
  • Delegate Delores McQuinn, 70th District (Chesterfield, Henrico, and Richmond)
  • Zann Nelson, researcher, writer, public speaker specializing in African American history, and creator of the site History Investigator
  • Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Professor of History, and Director of the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center for African Diaspora Studies at Norfolk State University
  • Jalane Schmidt, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia
  • Lance Warren, co-director of the documentary An Outrage.