Remembrance service to mark 100th anniversary of Woodford lynching

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WOODFORD COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – A Remembrance Service is planned for Saturday, March 13, 2021 on the 100th Anniversary of the lynching of Richard W. James, a Black Midway resident who was hung from a tree and murdered by a violent white mob outside the city of Versailles in 1921.

The Remembrance Service will begin at 2 p.m. in the Sons and Daughters of Relief Cemetery in Midway, where James is buried.

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Micah Lynn, 19-year-old Kentucky State University student and Woodford County resident, brought the idea for a remembrance service to several community members after studying the extent of racial violence in Kentucky.

“When I learned about the lynching site, which is near my house, I was really upset that there was nothing to mark the history,” said Lynn.

Recognizing the need to respond to the injustice of the past and the present, Micah noted that understanding the extent of racial violence is “hard to grasp until you understand how it affected your own community.”

A Joint Proclamation will be signed by Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift, Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott and Woodford County Judge Executive James Kay designating March 13, 2021 “Richard W. James Day” to remember and reflect on the “horrors of lynching and its effects on our country.”

Local clergy and community leaders will honor the life of Richard W. James in prayer, poetry and music, recalling the injustice of a century ago and challenging us to end racial injustice today.

The community is invited to attend the Remembrance Service, which will be held outdoors at the Sons and Daughters of Relief Cemetery at Wausau and Higgins Street in Midway, beginning at 2 p.m.

The event will follow Covid-19 protocols requiring masks and social distancing.