Action Alert: Pass the Emmett Till Antilynching Act

“Our country’s national crime is lynching.”

Ida B. Wells
On January 6, 2021, a mob of insurrectionists opposing the presidential election results erected nooses on our Capitol grounds and stormed the Capitol, leaving this symbol of terror and threat. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

After more than 100 years of unsuccessful legislative efforts to make lynching a federal offense, it’s time for justice for the victims of lynching and their communities. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act awaits approval. Your help is needed to push it through.

• Over 6400 people were lynched between 1865 and 1968, and most were African Americans. These numbers represent the documented cases; many others went unrecorded.

• Lynching (murder) is a crime that occurred in every state except four.

• Ninety-nine percent of all lynching perpetrators escaped punishment by state or local officials.

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act will make lynching a federal hate crime, allowing federal intervention and guidelines in charging, prosecuting, and sentencing perpetrators of lynching.

The bill was reintroduced by the House on January 4, 2021.

Why Support This Bill. No matter how old the crime, victims of lynching and their families deserve justice. Moreover, lynching continues and remains a threat as seen by the events of January 6, 2021.

What You Can Do. Contact your senators and representatives to urge them to vote for H.R. 55 – Emmett Till Antilynching Act. See the list of MD representatives with their contact information in the attached PDF file.

Remembering William Burns

Sidney Thomas writes a powerful and beautiful piece for Black History month by remembering the name and story of William Burns, the only black man lynched in Allegancy County in western Maryland. The article offers us a glimpse of a soil collection ceremony, a project we are working to do in the Piscataway, Maryland area. Please read as we share stories throughout this month:

The soil was collected by Ms. Fisher and other local volunteers at the Allegany County courthouse site on Washington Street where Williams Burns, an African-American man, was brutally lynched on October 6, 1907 by an all white mob – some of whom were members of the Ku Klux Klan. The soil was collected as part of the Equal Justice Initiative Community Remembrance Project – in association with the Allegany County Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Committee. EJI is a nationwide organization working to confront prejudice and heal our nation’s history of racial injustice.

Read more here…

Visit to Piscataway

CW: Brief description of a historical lynching

The 1869 lynching of Thomas Juricks became more tangible for members of the PG County Lynching Memorial Project during a January tour of four Piscataway sites connected to this horrific chapter of the county’s history.

A mob wearing handkerchiefs with eyeholes cut out lynched Juricks, who was awaiting trial after being accused on flimsy evidence of raping a white woman. He worked on a farm in Piscataway and lived nearby with his family.

During the tour led by PGCLMP member Blair Bowie, we learned more about what is believed to be the county’s first lynching, identified possible locations for a soil collection community remembrance project, considered ways to involve the local communities (Clinton and Fort Washington) and discussed areas for further research.

The tour included:

  • Old Piscataway Town, the closest town to Juricks’ home (Clinton)
  • Likely site of Thomas Juricks’ home, site roughly marked in 1878 (Fort Washington)
  • Hatton’s Hill, location of a Black schoolhouse and area where Juricks is reported to be buried (Fort Washington)
  • Chapel Hill, a thriving post Civil War African American farming community that established a Freedman’s Bureau school and meeting house. (Fort Washington)

Members of the PGCLMP were joined by representatives of The Accokeek Foundation and other interested county residents.

Photos by Karen Scrivo and Aaron Tinch

What We Accomplished in 2020

2020 was a year no one saw coming. Everyone has had their own struggles as well as joys, but the end of the year is also a time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished together!

  • We set up an organizational and leadership structure with committees and clear goals.
  • We created a mission statement and a logo.
  • We held a successful common read of “On the Courthouse Lawn” by Sherrilyn Ifill to learn more about history and the modern ripple effects of lynchings and to reach out into the community.
  • We participated in and promoted a socially distant candlelight vigil for George Floyd.
  • We began planning for our first soil collection ceremony.
  • We utilized technology to create resource lists, maps and other tools to help in our work and generally deepened our research into the history of lynchings in our county.
  • We set up a website and social media presence.
  • We promoted and took part in the 3rd annual Lynching in Maryland Conference, as well as spreading the word about other Maryland Lynching Memorial Project events.
  • We met new people who share common goals of making our communities better.

If you have anything to add to our list of accomplishments, post them in the comments below. Here’s to a new year and the new things to come for PGCLMP in 2021.

Virtual Event, The Lakeland Spirit

Join the Lakeland Community Heritage Project, in partnership with the American Studies Department of the University of Maryland, and Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, for a virtual presentation of heritage and stories from the Lakeland community of College Park, Maryland, 1950–1980.

This is a virtual event.

Thursday, November 19, 2020 | 7- 8:30pm

Register here:

Lynching in Maryland Conference

The Maryland Lynching Memorial Project’s annual “Lynching in Maryland” conference will be held online this year due to the ongoing public health emergency. This will be the third year we have presented this program.

This year’s conference will be held:

Saturday, October 17, 2020
10a to 12.30p

One of this year’s keynote speakers will be Michael Pfeifer, Ph.D., Professor of History at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. Dr. Pfeifer has studies the history of collective violence and criminal justice in the United States and is the author of no fewer than five books on the history of lynching including a seminal work on the subject, Rough Justice Lynching and American Society, 1874-1947(University of Illinois Press).

At the upcoming conference, Dr. Pfeifer will speak about a relatively neglected chapter in the history of racial terror, namely the lynchings of enslaved persons and free blacks before the Civil War. This period includes the lynching of Dave Thomas in Denton, Md., in 1854, the first documented racial terror lynching in Maryland.

In addition, there will be a timely and important panel discussion on how the legacy of lynching continues to influence the Black vote. Another panel will examine the state of social justice activism in Maryland from the Eastern Shore to Garrett County in the west. There will also be updates from representatives of the MD Lynching Truth & Reconciliation Commission and the Equal Justice Initiative.

Tickets to the virtual conference are $10. We encourage you to register now!

PGC LMP Study Group for Summer 2020

The Prince George’s County Lynching Memorial Project is offering a free Study Group on the acclaimed book  “On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century” by civil rights attorney Sherrilyn A. Ifill. We are reading the 2018 Revised Edition with a forward by Bryan Stevenson, author of “Just Mercy” and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. The book focuses on Eastern Shore lynchings that took place on county courthouse lawns, as did several here in Prince George’s County.

When: Wednesdays, August 12, 19, 26 at 7 pm via Zoom.

We will likely discuss Part One in the first two sessions and Part Two in the third session. Please try to attend all three! 

Advance registration is required:

Available on-line in Paperback, eTextbook, eBook, and Audiobook (read by actress LisaGay Hamilton) at: 

Loyalty Books in DC (Black-owned)
Better World Books (non-profit source of used books)
Busboys and Poets
Beacon Press (the publisher)
Barnes and Noble
Prince George’s County Library System (check availability–request purchase!)

Don’t forget to register yourself!