The Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the first-ever state-run commission dedicated to addressing lynchings in the U.S.
The commission was established by a bill that received unanimous approval from the state’s house and senate in April, which acknowledges that at least 40 African Americans were lynched by white mobs over nearly an 80-year period in the state of Maryland.
The bill also recognizes that no one was ever charged in connection to these crimes, and various government entities commissioned the lynchings and conspired to conceal the identities of the perpetrators.
The last known lynching in Maryland occurred 86 years ago, but Ifill says the truth behind these killings is hidden in plain sight.
The commission will be comprised of a staff member from the state Attorney General’s Office who is authorized to issue subpoenas for documents and witnesses that could reveal key details like the burial place of victims, who she says were often buried in obscure graveyards.
The commission is expected to submit a preliminary report to the governor on Sept. 1, 2020 and a final report on Dec. 1, 2021.
Ifill says the state’s support of this commission is “powerful” and “historic.”
“It is really vital that this not be seen as some private effort,” she says. “And the state has to take responsibility for its own history that is not pleasant.”