A Pilgrimage for John Henry James

Charlottesville High School student and activist Zyahna Bryant at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery. Photo: Pat Jarrett.

On July 7th, 2018, a group of almost 100 Charlottesville residents set off to Montgomery. They carried with them a jar of soil, symbolizing the remains of a man named John Henry James. James was lynched in Charlottesville in 1898; no one was ever held responsible for his murder at the hands of a white mob.

On the way to Alabama, the Charlottesville Civil Rights Pilgrimage travelled through historic sites across the United States South. Travelers also met with African American activists, elders, faith leaders, and experts in Appomattox, Danville, Greensboro, Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham, and Montgomery.

With Good Reason’s Associate Producer Cass Adair joined the trip. His audio appears in the episode Pilgrimage.

Virginia Humanities photographer Pat Jarrett brought back images. Director of African American Programs Justin Reid created a 360 tour of the journey.

Learn more about the story of John Henry James and the legacy of racial terror lynching:

       “They Lynched Him:” Richmond Planet article from 1898

       “The Train At Wood’s Crossing,” essay by Brendan Wolfe of Encyclopedia Virginia

Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, report by the Equal Justice Initiative

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