Seven Black men have been pardoned 70 years after they were executed in 1951 for the alleged rape of a white woman.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam granted the pardons after a meeting with the descendants of the Martinsville Seven, Francis DeSales Grayson, who was 37; Booker T. Millner, 19; Frank Hairston Jr., 19; Howard Lee Hairston, 18; James Luther Hairston, 20; Joe Henry Hampton, 19; and John Claybon Taylor, 21.
Understanding the impact of adverse societal racial disparities. All 45 of the prisoners executed for rape from 1908 to 1951 in Virginia were Black men. More people die. #blacktwitter #blackhistory https://t.co/WHuqUzshOU
— Black History Heroes (@HistoryHeroes) September 1, 2021
The “Martinsville Seven,” the men were convicted by an all-white jury of raping 32-year-old Ruby Stroud Floyd in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Martinsville, Virginia on Jan. 8, 1949. Four of the men were executed by electric chair on Feb. 2, 1951. The following week, the remaining three were also executed by electric chair.
I just granted posthumous pardons for the Martinsville seven—young Black men executed 70 years ago after speedy trials by all-white juries.
— Governor Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) August 31, 2021