Working group facilitates community dialogue on Harrisonburg’s past of racial terror

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Assistant professor of Justice Studies, Gianluca De Fazio, developed a website that archives VA lynchings from 1877-1927.

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, Harrisonburg VA. 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, assistant 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, thanks to his digital history project, Racial Terror: Lynching in Virginia. This digital archive documents the stories of all of the 104 known lynching victims who were killed in Virginia between 1866 and 1932, most of them African American men."

Members of the group, led by the commission’s chair, Senator 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.

If you are interested in covering the event and would like to conduct interviews, please contact me. I would be happy to connect you with event organizers.

Media contact: Hannah Robinson,, 520-222-2808

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Published: Friday, September 6, 2019

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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