Maryland panel on lynching begins study of killings

Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, who sponsored legislation to create the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission, speaks at the commission’s first meeting on Monday in Annapolis.

ANNAPOLIS — A Maryland commission that will research at least 40 lynchings committed in the state between 1854 and 1933 and make recommendations about reconciliation held its first meeting Monday.

The Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission meeting was largely organizational, with members choosing an acting chairman and discussing future meetings.

“We have never really looked at it, looked at the facts,” said Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, a Democrat who sponsored legislation this year to create the panel, which she described as the first statewide commission of its kind in the nation to take up the issue. “This commission is going to hold hearings and regional hearings throughout the state of Maryland where these lynchings took place.”

Pena-Melnyk is not serving on the commission, but delivered a welcome to the members.

The measure she sponsored was approved unanimously by the Maryland General Assembly this year.

“The idea is to learn from our history, especially given what’s happening in the U.S. right now,” she said. “We need to have a frank discussion about racism and about different cultures and respect them.”

More than a third of the lynchings in the state happened within about a 45-minute drive of Baltimore, The Baltimore Sun reported last year, and lynchings have been recorded in 18 of the state’s 24 counties.

George Armwood was the victim of the last recorded lynching in the state in 1933 in Princess Anne, Maryland, for allegedly assaulting a 71-year-old white woman.

The commission includes historians from each from the state’s historically black colleges: Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. It also includes a state archivist and a staff member for the attorney general’s office, who will be able to subpoena witnesses or documents for the panel’s work.

Elected as acting chair was David Fakunle, of the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore.

The panel is scheduled to submit an interim report on findings and recommendations to the governor and state lawmakers by September 2020. A final report is scheduled to be submitted by December 2021. The law puts the commission into effect for three years.

“There are instances where people are recommending, for example, markers” to honor the lives lost, Pena-Melnyk said in an interview before the meeting.

At least 40 African Americans were lynched in the state by white mobs between 1854 and 1933, the law says. It acknowledges that no one was ever charged in connection with any of the crimes and that government entities were often complicit in committing them and concealing the identities of those responsible.

———

This version corrects that interim report is scheduled to be submitted by Sept. 1, 2020.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) comments

captainamericarules

Wonder what this cost taxpayers?

awteam2000

Don’t know. The commission is made up by the Maryland University System and the Attorney General’s office. Already on the clock. I guess they could quantify the amount of time they spend on the investigation and convert that into a cost once done.

KR999

So, just what do those people hope to accomplish with this other than a few markers?

Quisling

"Those people" need to shut up and be grateful they live in Our country.

Samanthapowers

sarcasm, q?

Samanthapowers

why do you even care? does it offend your delicate sensibilities?

awteam2000

The column reports Del.Pena-Melnyk , “The idea is to learn from our history, especially given what’s happening in the U.S. right now,” she said. “We need to have a frank discussion about racism and about different cultures and respect them.”

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominen criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.