In Harrisonburg, reconnecting Northeast will help heal urban renewal’s old wounds

BY: - September 22, 2023

Before 1960, Harrisonburg’s Northeast neighborhood was a vibrant, predominantly Black community filled with homes, businesses and families striving toward a brighter future during the height of America’s Civil Rights Movement.  But starting in the 1960s, the dreams and progress of many of those Northeast families were crushed by the city’s urban renewal projects, which destroyed […]


Eminent domain’s long-ago racism still hinders African Americans today

BY: - September 18, 2023

More than a half-century ago, several colleges in Virginia benefited by usurping the onetime properties of Black people. The cruel irony? Those African Americans whose homes were snatched, often legally by utilizing eminent domain, weren’t welcomed at those same universities. Those property seizures are a stain on the commonwealth. They were racist in result – […]


Henrietta Lacks’ family finally got their due; many more never will

BY: - August 7, 2023

The descendants of Virginia-born miracle woman Henrietta Lacks finally won a major settlement with a biotechnology company that profited billions from Lacks’ ever-reproducing cells; I congratulate them. The hard-won settlement is a glimmer of justice flashing within a dark facet of America’s medical and scientific progress, fields fueled by racist, unethical practices in the past […]


Remembering and mourning our foreign partners on Memorial Day

BY: - May 29, 2023

By Jim Jones Beginning with the Revolutionary War, almost 1.4 million Americans have died in our nation’s wars, including about 667,000 killed in combat. We remember, honor and mourn those gallant souls every year on Memorial Day – May 29 this year. Those Americans who have served in or near war zones carry their memories […]


Virginia’s historic Black watermen communities are endangered

BY: - May 22, 2023

Most days, James Douglas would be on the water by 5:30 in the morning, on the hunt for oysters. He’d push off in his small boat from his family’s wharf on the Yeocomico River in Westmoreland County, the birthplace of the nation’s first president, George Washington, and, since 1824, of Douglas’ family, the Wilsons. Douglas’ […]

Researchers unearth century-old documents in Virginia Beach lynching

BY: - May 15, 2023

After the Virginia Mercury’s two–part investigative series into the 1885 lynching of Noah Cherry in what is now Virginia Beach, staffers at the Library of Virginia in Richmond searched archives and discovered a variety of documents, including the coroner’s inquest about Cherry’s death, which hasn’t been seen publicly since the late 19th century. In a […]

Some Virginia newspapers powered political disenfranchisement, brutalization of Black people

BY: - May 3, 2023

When 10-year-old Alice Powell was mysteriously killed in 1885, the Norfolk Virginian and the Richmond Dispatch put together a timeline of her murder, which they blamed on Noah Cherry, a Black man who was lynched soon after the newspapers published the story. But the timelines didn’t agree with each other, or with the county’s death […]

New information in 138-year-old Virginia Beach lynching shatters state’s genteel veneer

BY: - May 2, 2023

According to a news story, Medora Alice Powell was singing a Christian hymn, “The Sweet By-and-By,” as the 10-year-old girl left for school early in the morning on Friday the 13th of November in 1885. She took a solitary path through a portion of the rural area then known as Princess Anne County where Holland […]


Pocahontas Island’s next lifetime

BY: - April 26, 2023

Having devoted the latter part of his life to preserving Pocahontas Island in Petersburg, Richard A. Stewart, the island’s honorary mayor, is gone, dead at age 79. In the wake of the stalwart community historian’s death, though, the island lives on, primed for its second wind. As it did during his lifetime, Stewart’s presence looms […]


Irvo Otieno’s needless death exemplifies the criminalization of Black mental illness

BY: - March 23, 2023

Irvo Otieno departed this life on March 6, sprawled on the floor of Central State Hospital, his hands and feet shackled.  Otieno died from asphyxiation after Henrico sheriff’s deputies and Central State Hospital employees took turns kneeling on him for almost 11 minutes. Earlier this week, a Dinwiddie County grand jury indicted seven deputies and […]