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Maryland governor issues posthumous pardons for 34 victims of racial lynching

Larry Hogan
Posted at 1:18 PM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 16:18:07-04

TOWSON, Md. — Over the weekend, the governor of Maryland issued full posthumous pardons for 34 victims of racial lynching in the state between 1854 and 1933. It is the first time in history that a governor has issued a blanket pardon for the victims of racial lynchings.

“The State of Maryland has long been on the forefront of civil rights, dating back to Justice Thurgood Marshall’s legal battle to integrate schools and throughout our national reckoning on race,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Today, we are once again as together we continue the work to build a more perfect union. My hope is that this action will at least in some way help to right these horrific wrongs and perhaps bring a measure of peace to the memories of these individuals, and to their descendants and loved ones.”

The governor made his announcement in Towson in honor of Howard Cooper, a 15-year-old boy who was dragged from the Baltimore County Jail and hanged from a sycamore tree.

Hogan sent a letter to President Joe Biden, encouraging him to establish a U.S. Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Commission.

In 2019, the governor enacted a law to establish the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the first of its kind in the U.S.

Earlier this year, the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project and Michelle St. Pierre’s students at Loch Raven Technical Academy in Towson petitioned the governor to issue a posthumous pardon for Howard Cooper.

After receiving the request, the governor directed his chief legal counsel to review all of the available documentation and newspaper accounts of racial lynching in Maryland.

For a full list of all 34 individuals pardoned, click here.

This story was originally published by Keyarah Watson at WMAR.