LYNCHBURG, Va. (WRIC) — An online petition to rename Lynchburg has amassed nearly 2,000 signatures amid unrest in the country.
Asking for the city to hold itself accountable amid the Black Lives Matter movement, petition starter Daisy Howard is seeking a name change.
“If black lives truly matter to the city, then such a word defining the hanging of people of color can and will be eliminated,” Howard said. “I have always been embarrassed to admit where I come from. I cringe having to say the name of the city Lynchburg.”
ABC-affiliate WSET reports that the city of Lynchburg is named after founder John Lynch.
“He believed in emancipating slaves,” Chief Public History Officer Ted Delaney told WSET, describing him as progressive. “He had slaves but he freed all of his. He’s supporting recolonization, which is sending slaves back to Africa. He did not believe in perpetuating the institution of slavery in this country.”
HIDDEN HISTORY: Behind the term ‘lynching’ and its ties to Virginia
The term lynching actually stems from Lynch’s brother, Charles Lynch.
“Lynch’s Law,” was named after him. In 1780, he brought his own type of justice to those still loyal to the British. As punishment, those who were insubordinate were tied to trees and lashed repeatedly.
The term originally had nothing to do with African Americans. As time progressed, however, lynchings were used as an extreme implementation of justice for people of color.
With the word lynching and the stigma it carries still affecting African-Americans daily, Howard says in her petition that its time to do better.
“How can we continue to be okay and complacent with its name, if black lives matter to us?” she asked.
The petition had garnered 1,850 signatures since its inspection. City council would have to approve an official name change.
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