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April 13, 2023
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam granted posthumous pardons Tuesday to seven Black men who were executed in 1951 for the rape of a white women (AP).
The “Martinsville Seven” as they were known, were convicted of raping 32-year-old Ruby Stroud Floyd. The seven men were mostly in their late teens or early twenties. The woman had gone into a black neighborhood in Martinsville, Virginia on January 8, 1949 to collect money for clothes she had sold. From sentencing to conviction all of this occurred within eight days. Attorneys were not present when each man was interrogated.
The first four men were executed on February 2, 1951 and the following three were executed the next day. All were electrocuted. During 1951 rape was a capital offense. It is also noted that from the electrocution records from 1908 to 1951 that all 45 of those accused of rape were black.
Governor Northam announced the pardons after meeting with descendants of the men and those who were their advocates. The petition the advocates gave did not argue their innocence but said their trials were unfair and punishments were unjust. In March the Virginia state legislature abolished the state’s death penalty.
ARTICLE: MAUREEN MCGAURAN
MANAGING EDITOR CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: GOSHEN NEWS