Maryland Establishes First Statewide Commission on Racial Terror Lynchings

Governor Larry Hogan signs HB 307 into law. (Maryland Lynching Memorial Project)

Governor Larry Hogan signs HB 307 into law. (Maryland Lynching Memorial Project)

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on Thursday signed HB 307 into law, creating the nation's first statewide truth commission empowered to investigate racial terror lynchings and address the legacy of racial terror.

Sponsored by Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-Anne Arundel and Prince George's Counties), the bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in the house and passed the state senate with a unanimous vote on April 8.

The act acknowledges that at least 40 African Americans were lynched in Maryland between 1854 and 1933 by white mobs who "intended to terrorize African American communities and force them into silence and subservience to the ideology of white supremacy."

Government officials at all levels "colluded in the commission of these crimes and conspired to conceal the identities of the parties involved," the preamble states. No one was ever tried, convicted, or otherwise brought to justice for participating in these racially motivated lynchings and no victim's family or community ever received a formal apology or compensation for their loss . . .

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Sonia Smith Kang