Lynching memorial unveiled on Court Square

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A black man who was lynched in Albemarle County more than 100 years ago was honored Friday with a special marker on Court Square.

The case of John Henry James is one of many across the Commonwealth where scores of black men were executed by lynching in the 19th and 20th centuries without due process.

Governor Ralph Northam joined local officials in unveiling the marker, which many say underscores the need to know the history and people of this violent and dark period of Virginia's history.

Charlottesville City Councilor Wes Bellamy says it's a start in understanding this part of Virginia's history.

"We need many more markers and statues and public sentiment telling the full story of African-American history in the Commonwealth of Virginia but we need to do a better job of balancing and us adding isn't always balancing because we know that one outweighs the other just in terms of sheer number," he said.

Bellamy also said something else has to happen to ease racial tensions.

"So some of these Confederate statues, really all of these Confederate statues need to be removed if we truly want to start healing," he said.

The marker is a result of a petition to remember the July 12, 1898 lynching of James, who was accused of assaulting a white woman.

His story is also told at the Equal Justice Initiative lynching memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.

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