City of Alexandria Commemorates Anniversary of 1897 Lynching of Joseph McCoy

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City of Alexandria Commemorates Anniversary of 1897 Lynching of Joseph McCoy

­­For Immediate Release: April 23, 2021

Today, the City of Alexandria invites the community to join in the remembrance of Joseph McCoy, a black teenage resident who was killed by a lynch mob at the corner of Lee and Cameron streets in 1897. All are invited to visit the In Memoriam webpage to learn more about Joseph McCoy, pay their respects at the site where the lynching took place, and view the newly installed remembrance marker as part of the Alexandria Equal Justice Institute Community Remembrance Project. City Hall, Carlyle House, and 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 Joseph McCoy. 

McCoy’s death was one of two documented lynchings in Alexandria, out of 11 that occurred in Northern Virginia, and among the 100 documented lynchings that occurred in the Commonwealth between 1882 and 1968.

The City also invites residents to a virtual lecture by Historian Susan Strasser on Saturday, April 24, at 1 p.m. The first half of the lecture will be about lynching; the second half will feature a poetry reading by Narcia Cole. The program is free, but registration is required.

The nonprofit Equal Justice Institute’s (EJI) National Memorial for Peace and Justice includes more than 800 steel monuments, one for each city or county in the United States where a racial terror lynching took place. The names of the lynching victims are engraved on the pillars. A field of identical monuments is in a park adjacent to the memorial. 

The EJI Community Remembrance Project invites cities and counties across the country to claim their monuments and install them in the areas they represent. In addition to installing the pillars, EJI encourages participating communities to place a historical marker and to collect soil from the site of each lynching, to allow communities to gain perspective and experience that is crucial to managing the monument retrieval process wisely and effectively. One of the main goals of Alexandria’s EJI Community Remembrance Project is to bring the pillar with the names of Alexandria’s two documented lynching victims — Joseph McCoy and Benjamin Thomas — from Alabama to Alexandria for placement in a prominent location.  

Visit alexandriava.gov/Historic for more information about Alexandria’s Equal Justice Initiative Community Remembrance Project, future programming, the history of lynching in Alexandria, to sign up for the monthly newsletter and read frequently asked questions.

For inquiries from the news media only, contact Andrea Blackford, Senior Communications Officer, at andrea.blackford@alexandriava.gov or 703.746.3959.

For reasonable disability accommodation, contact Nicole.Quinn@alexandriava.gov or 703.746.4554, Virginia Relay 711.

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This news release is available at alexandriava.gov/121858.

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