Library Staffers Bear Witness to a Lynching, Join Pilgrimage in Fight for Social Justice

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice monument to victims of lynching

On Sunday, July 8—a year since the Klan marched in Charlottesville to protest the proposed removal of a monument to Robert E. Lee, and a little less than a year since a white supremacist rally downtown turned deadly—about 100 Charlottesville residents embarked on a Charlottesville Civil Rights Pilgrimage, determined to call attention to the fact that racist violence is not new to Charlottesville.

The pilgrims, who are traveling by bus to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL, bear a sample of soil collected from a site near Farmington Country Club where in 1898 a white mob boarded a train and dragged off a black man, John Henry James. They hanged him to a tree and fired 75 bullets into his body. Some in the mob collected pieces of his clothing for souvenirs.

The soil will become part of the National Memorial’s collection of jars containing soil from other lynching sites—a means of bearing witness to a reality unfamiliar to most white people, but all too familiar to African Americans.

Among the pilgrims are Library staffers Eze Amos (from the Digital Production Team), Trayc Freeman (Fine Arts Evening Manager), and Sony Prosper (ACRL Diversity Alliance Resident Librarian in the Small Special Collections Library).

Please follow the journey of the Library staffers, and visit Trayc Freeman’s BLACKHISTORY blog as the pilgrimage stops along the way at sites of historical significance in the continuing struggle for equality and social justice.

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