Martinsville Seven - what does it take...a burning cross in the front yard? It's interesting how the biggest event that ever occurred in the Martinsville/Henry County area is completely ignored. It was not until a few years ago, searching online for ball scores, that I came across the online version of the book, "The Martinsville Seven," by Eric Rise, which he wrote for his Ph.D. at the University of Delaware. This event, which made international news in 1949, is completely ignored by the community today. It is the story of seven African-Americans who were hurriedly tried and convicted of the rape of a white woman. They were electrocuted in the electric chair in Richmond's State Penitentiary.

Although I have tried to resurrect this event, not for my own personal gain, but to help the healing in the community, I have been met with deaf ears. I have only received one response to an inquiry in the Martinsville Bulletin regarding this event. It just so happens that this person and I interviewed the first cousin of one of the seven. He was nothing but gracious about me being there, re-opening a wound that has been there for years.

I am a cyclist, and as a cyclist, I bike on the Dick and Willie Trail. Nothing is mentioned about the site of the rape scene off the trail in East Martinsville, and this "skeleton in the closet" continues to be ignored. I've even attended meetings in the Old Courthouse. In the courtroom where the trials took place, nothing is mentioned.

Even a picture of Patrick Henry, who practiced law in this community for several years, doesn't gain attention in this same courtroom. Is it better to ignore that an event ever happened...and like a book burning....completely forget about it? True healing will not happen like this.



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