Honoring Alexandria lynching victims

Honoring Alexandria lynching victims
The Alexandria Community Remembrance Project opened registration for its pilgrimage to Montgomery, AL. (Photo/City of Alexandria)

By Liana Hardy | lhardy@alextimes.com

The Alexandria Community Remembrance Project has opened registration for its pilgrimage to Mongtomery, AL, from Oct. 6 to 10, which will celebrate the lives of Joseph McCoy and Benjamin Thomas.

The pilgrimage will see Alexandria community members travel to the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice to deliver jars of soil representing the lives of McCoy and Thomas – symbolically bringing Alexandria’s two known lynching victims to their final resting place, according to ACRP’s newsletter. Participants will also visit civil rights sights in both Montgomery and Selma and hear first-hand accounts from civil rights activists.

“The trip will focus on the history and legacy of racial terror in this country, as well as the struggle for social justice,” the newsletter reads.

18-year-old Joseph McCoy was violently attacked and lynched by a white mob at the corner of Lee St. and Cameron St in 1897. Benjamin Thomas, 16, was hunted down and killed by a lynch mob in 1899 at the corner of Fairfax St. and King St.

ACRP recently held a remembrance ceremony for Benjamin Thomas on Aug. 8, which included the recognition of those who stood up for Thomas before and after the lynching. ACRP also held a community reflection for Joseph McCoy on April 23, marking the 125th year since McCoy’s murder.

In collaboration with the Equal Justice Initiative, ACRP will hold a soil collection ceremony on Sept. 24, where members of the community will gather soil from locations that reflect the lives McCoy and Thomas; ACRP will take labeled jars to the Memorial for Peace and Justice during the pilgrimage and leave additional jars at the Alexandria Black History Museum.

The pilgrimage includes chartered buses to and from Montgomery, discounted hotel stays, curated social justice tours, most meals and evening programs with guest speakers. Scholarships are available to help cover the cost of the trip. Community members can register to travel with ACRP by bus or choose to self travel at https://shop.alexandriava.gov/Events.aspx.