Traveling Exhibit Memorializes Black Man's Lynching in Albemarle County
Albemarle County is reconciling its racist past. A traveling exhibit is now on display that memorializes a black man's lynching that happened on county lands, formerly known as Wood's Crossing.
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Albemarle County is reconciling its racist past.
A traveling exhibit is now on display that memorializes a black man's lynching that happened on county lands, formerly known as Wood's Crossing.
The exhibit is a collaboration between the county, the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, and the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center in Charlottesville.
It tells the story of John Henry James, who was lynched in 1898.
The traveling lynching exhibit kicked off at the JMRL location in Crozet on Monday, February 11.
The exhibit features soil from the lynching site.
"By bringing in this living thing that you are in fact creating an opportunity for growth, you're creating an opportunity to see this as an ongoing vital part of our history,” Andrea Douglas, the director of the Jefferson School, said.
John Henry James's murder was the driving force behind a 2018 trip the took community members from Charlottesville to Montgomery, Alabama.
"It was just devastating, and being there at the site in July when we collected the soil was quite a remembrance - very powerful remembrance of this,” Ann Mallek, an Albemarle County supervisor, said.
"Our goal was to amplify our experience,” Douglas said. “This is just one element of that, the fact that we are making this history accessible and available is probably one of the more important things."
Mallek says this exhibit is one of the first steps in spreading the word of untold stories to the community.
"It's so important we carry this forward and make sure we do a better job of telling all the stories of our communities so that we understand each other,” Mallek said.
Mallek says the county’s work to reconcile its past isn’t over.
"This is phase one, and then we're also doing historic markers where we're researching different people who have stories that have not been told,” Mallek said.
The exhibit will come to the library in downtown Charlottesville in March.
Once the memorial travels through all of the JMRL branches, it will be part of a semi-permanent history exhibit at the County Office Building on McIntire Road.