How to memorialize lynching victims: Daughter shares family history with Washington Post, as CRRJ supports her pursuit for restorative justice

On May 8, 1954, Russell Charley’s three eldest sons — John, 16, Russell, 14, and Willie Lee, 12 — found their father’s castrated body hanging from a tree not far from their family home in Vredenburgh, Alabama.

Russell Charley was a father to six children and his wife, Carrie, was pregnant with their seventh at the time of his lynching.

Based on the Department of Justice (DOJ) litigation file, informants appear to have come to the FBI with information, which was assessed by the DOJ as not having the facts required for a violation of any federal civil rights statutes. Otherwise, there has been no other formal federal investigation into this case.

About the Archive

The Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive houses case files and documents for more than 1,000 cases of racial homicides in the Jim Crow South. Co-founded by Melissa Nobles, professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Margaret Burnham, CRRJ director and professor of law at Northeastern, these uncovered stories highlight how violence affected lives, defined legal rights and shaped politics between 1930 and 1954.

Annie Whitlock, Charley’s daughter who was 5-years-old at the time of his murder, has been working with CRRJ to pursue financial compensation and an apology from town officials for her father’s death.

Adding her voice to the ongoing discussion on how best to memorialize victims of lynching, Whitlock recently spoke with a journalist from the Washington Post about her family’s history and her fight for restorative justice.

Read the full story here.

More information on Charley’s case, including FBI records about an alleged police cover-up of the killing, can be found in the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive.

Above: Newspaper report from the Chicago Defender about the alleged hanging of Russell Charlie on June 12, 1954. More on this case can be found in the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive.
Newspaper report from the Chicago Defender about the alleged hanging of Russell Charlie, June 12, 1954. Details can be found in the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive.

Join our mailing list

Receive the latest news about CRRJ's work, events and programs.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive email communications from The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project https://crrj.org. You can unsubscribe any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe link found at the bottom of every email. Serviced by Constant Contact.
What's your reaction?
0Love0Insightful0Discouraged0Complicated
to top