Possible Lynching Commission Considered in Maryland - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Possible Lynching Commission Considered in Maryland

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George Armwood, 1933 lynching victim. George Armwood, 1933 lynching victim.
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MARYLAND- With 57 sponsors of the legislative, lawmakers in Annapolis are considering a bill that would create a new statewide organization, the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

James Yamakawa, a community activist in Wicomico County and a member of the new Wicomico Truth and Reconciliation Initiative, said the group's goal is to remember some of the area's darkest moments in history.

"A local group trying to build a coalition, a broad grassroots coalition, in order to have markers for Matthew Williams, Garfield King, and the unknown victim, erected in Salisbury," said Yamakawa.  

Yamakawa added the proposed state-wide version of this local organization is a great step in the right direction. House Bill 307 would create the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission and that organization would be designed to address, engage, and reconcile with communities impacted by the 40 lynching in the state between 1854 and 1933.

Nineteen people would serve on the commission, including a member of the state House and Senate, the president of the Maryland NAACP, and one historian from each of the four historically black colleges in Maryland, including UMES.  Dr. Joshua Wright, an associate professor of history at the school, said it is a great decision to have UMES included in the potential new commission.

"You look at that George Armwood lynching, again the most famous one from the state, one of our former faculty members, Dr. Kirkland Hall, is a descendant of George Armwood.  That lynching took place just a few minutes away from campus if you're driving. So, we have a connection to that history," Wright said.

House Bill 307 is still in committee, so there is still quite some time left before it could officially be passed.  If the bill gets a majority vote in committee, it would go to the House floor for official consideration.  A similar bill was proposed in 2016 with nine sponsors, however that bill did not get out of committee.

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