Lynchings by County (click for details)

Racial Terror: Lynching in Virginia, 1877-1927 is an ongoing research project examining one of the darkest, yet almost forgotten, pages of American history: the lynching of thousands of people between the end of Reconstruction and the 1930s in the US South. In particular, this website focuses on telling the stories of all the 104 known lynching victims who were killed in Virginia between 1877 and 1927, 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 more than 500 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.

  • Lori Snyder Garrett
    September 1, 2018 at 7:43 am

    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?

    • Gianluca
      September 1, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      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

  • Karen D Blackburn
    August 1, 2018 at 9:28 am

    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!!

    • Gianluca
      August 1, 2018 at 9:42 am

      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.

  • April 29, 2018 at 11:35 am

    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.

  • April 7, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    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.

  • April 4, 2018 at 9:32 am

    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.

    • Gianluca
      April 4, 2018 at 10:17 am

      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.

      • Gianluca
        April 4, 2018 at 10:21 am

        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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