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.
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 memorialist victims of lynching, Whitlock recently spoke with a journalist from the Washington Post about her family’s history and her fight for restorative justice.
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.
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.
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