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Albemarle Co. Supervisors Endorse Group's Trip to Shed Light on American History

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Two of the organizers spoke at the supervisors' meeting Two of the organizers spoke at the supervisors' meeting
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

Close to 100 people from Charlottesville and Albemarle County are preparing for a multi-day trip to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

Ahead of their trip, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors officially endorsed the pilgrimage at its meeting on Thursday, July 5.

At the meeting Thursday night, supervisors received a full report from two of the trip organizers.

They say the purpose of the journey is to educate the community while commemorating the 120th anniversary of the lynching of John Henry James.

“Part of what we’re trying to do here is have a more public acknowledgement of our history and the pain of it,” says Jalane Schmidt, a religious studies professor at UVA.

Schmidt and Andrea Douglas, the executive director at the Jefferson School, are preparing to lead close to 100 people from Charlottesville and Albemarle County to Montgomery, Alabama.

“It’s really about how do we begin to understand and articulate, you know, what is the truth of our American history, and not black history per se, but the truth of our American history,” says Douglas.

The group is set to take off Sunday, July 8, and head toward the Equal Justice Initiative's National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

Members of the pilgrimage will carry dirt from the site of John Henry James' 1896 lynching in Albemarle County to add to the memorial's collection.

“It’s located at an area that is part of what is now known as Farmington, but at the time it was defined as Woods Crossing, which was essentially a railroad stop,” says Douglas.

The group is expected to return with a six-foot tall steel monument commemorating James' lynching, along with new knowledge of how to better educate the people of Charlottesville and Albemarle County about its history.

“If you imagine 100 people having this experience and then coming back to the community, the amplification of the possibilities of that education is really what we’re after here,” says Douglas.

The pilgrimage was recommended by Charlottesville's Blue Ribbon Commission after last summer’s events and supported by City Council.

Now, county supervisors are officially endorsing the trip as well.

“The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors do hereby recognize and support the memorialization of the lynching of Mr. John Henry James,” says Supervisor Norman Dill.

The group is expected to host a community discussion on lynching on Saturday ahead of its departure on Sunday.

That discussion is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, and organizers say 280 people have already registered.

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