In Memoriam 2023: Joseph McCoy April 23, 1897
In Memoriam: Joseph McCoy April 23, 1897
The Alexandria Community Remembrance Project (ACRP) invites the public to commemorative events to mark the 126th year since Joseph McCoy was brutally lynched.
In Remembrance of Joseph McCoy
April 22: ACRP Presents: Restorative or Transformational Justice? What is Justice?
April 23: Joseph McCoy Remembrance Wreath Laying
May 20: EJI Essay Contest Scholarship Awards
See event details below.
Also view the earlier Memorial pages, from 2020 through 2022.
ACRP Presents: Restorative or Transformational Justice? What is Justice?
April 22, 2023
11 a.m., Free
Charles Houston Recreation Center Gymnasium
All are invited to attend a community meeting on Transformational Justice Saturday, At this remembrance event, Bilqis Wilkerson, Managing Director at the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University will define what restorative or transformational justice means. Her presentation explores how communities can address the historic wrongs of enslavement, lynching, segregation, and mass incarceration in a positive way that brings justice, healing, and transformation. Please join the conversation as a member of the ACRP and consider how to reckon with racial terror events in Alexandria’s past.
Joseph McCoy Remembrance Wreath Laying
April 23, 2023
2 p.m. (gather at 1:45 p.m.), Free
Fairfax Street Side of Market Square
On Sunday, April 23, Alexandria remembered the 1897 racial terror lynching of Joseph McCoy with a procession procession from the doors of the old police station at City Hall where he was kidnapped by a white mob to the corner of Cameron and Lee Streets where he was lynched. The remembrance concluded with a wreath-laying.
Photos, courtesy Lois Kebe
Tracing the Past In Remembrance of Joseph McCoy
Acknowledge the events of April 23, 1897, and remember Alexandria native Joseph McCoy by walking the streets and noting the places where he lived, worked and may have been arrested. Travel to Market Square to the police station where Joseph first heard of the charges he faced, which he denied, before eventually confessing. The young Black man twice experienced intense fear as an enraged white mob came after him with murderous intent. Then walk his last terrified steps to Cameron and Lee Streets. There, honor him by saying his name, apologize for Alexandria’s history of racial terror and promise to work to ensure a just future for all people.
Illumination of Sites of Significance
City Hall, the old Station House Door of City Hall on N. Fairfax Street, the lynching location on N. Lee Street, and the George Washington Masonic Memorial will be illuminated in purple, the color of mourning, throughout the weekend to provide belated accountability, reconciliation, honor, and respect for McCoy.
EJI Essay Contest Scholarship Awards
EJI organized and judged a Racial Justice Essay Contest that ACRP and Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) launched this past Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Students in grades 9-12 were eligible to enter by researching a racial justice topic and submitting an essay between 800 and 1,000 words by March 17, 2023. ACRP partnered with Alexandria City High School (ACHS), the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities, and the Alexandria Library to offer writing and editing support to students wishing to enter the contest. Ten ACHS students submitted final essays and EJI selected the three scholarship winners.
At the May 20, 2023 event at City Hall, EJI Rep. Deksyos Damtew presented a total of $5,000 in scholarships to three students for essays exploring racial disparities in health care, modern-day lynchings, and an inaccurate historical portrayal that makes it a crime to be Black.
EJI sponsors the Racial Justice Essay Contests for public school students to advance the efforts of local Remembrance Projects. The contests are designed to invite community members to learn and engage in conversations about the history of racial injustice.
Essay Contest Winners
At the same event, Mayor Justin Wilson, members of City Council, and ACPS School Board Members celebrated the 40 Alexandria City High School students who have worked with ACRP to acknowledge and remember Alexandria lynching victims Joseph McCoy (April 23, 1897) and Benjamin Thomas (August 8, 1899) with a citywide proclamation .
See photo galleries of the event.
The Lynching of Joseph H. McCoy: A Narrative
The full account of this hate crime was methodically researched in 2020 by the 13-member Research Committee of the Alexandria Community Remembrance Project.
In the News
The lynching of Joseph McCoy . Out of the Attic, Alexandria Times, April 20, 2023.
Alexandria Community Remembrance Project (ACRP)
ACRP is a city-wide initiative dedicated to helping Alexandria understand its history of racial terror hate crimes. ACRP conducts research, education, programs, and events that remember Joseph McCoy and Benjamin Thomas and explores the long-term impacts upon Alexandria’s African American community. The work of ACRP is an effort to establish a welcoming community bound by equity and inclusion for all people.
Benjamin Thomas and Joseph McCoy are the only two documented Alexandria lynchings so far. McCoy was lynched on April 23, 1897. This year is the 125th anniversary of that event. It was commemorated on that date.