Martinsville 7 Execution: 1951
The Martinsville 7 were charged with the rape of a white woman, Ruby Stroud Floyd, in a black neighborhood of Martinsville, Virginia on January 8, 1949. After a long legal battle led by the NAACP and a grassroots campaign led by the Civil Rights Congress, the seven were executed in 1951 on February 2nd and February 5th.

The mass executions were the largest in Virginia in modern times. Every single one of the 45 men executed by Virginia’s electric chair for rape at that point were African American men charged with assaulting white women.

The seven executed were all workers. Three worked in a sawmill, one was a plasterer's helper, one a stonecutter and one a foundry man.

On January 31, a mass demonstration of over 400 took place in Richmond while the demonstrators picketed the White House. Hundreds stayed in Richmond in for a prayer vigil until the executions took place.

The hope generated by the Scottsboro campaign in the 1930s was followed by bitter setbacks in the post World War II period. The campaigns to stop the legal lynching of the Martinsville 7 and Willie McGee in Mississippi were met with red-baiting and gruesome determination by the white elite to protect strict racial codes.

In denying appeals to commute the Martinville 7 death sentences, Virginia’s Governor John S. Battle said, that the wave of messages that flooded his desks was “cosponsored” by the Civil Rights Congress and the Communist Party.

“The propaganda emanating from these sources bears no semblance of truth and is designed for no other purpose than to forment ill feeling between the races and to mislead those who have no knowledge of the true fact of these cases.”

The seven executed were Francis Grayson, James L. Hairston, John Claybon Taylor, Frank Hairston, Jr., Booker T. Millner, Howard Lee Hairston and Joe Henry Hampton.
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