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Keep up with the latest from THJ and fellow TN racial justice organizations. Learn how you can support our mission to uncover the truth about racial violence in Tennessee in order to achieve justice, conciliation, and healing across our state. 


We are proud to work with fellow racial justice organizations across TN. Meet The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis.

The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis (LSP) was organized in response to a 2015 presentation by Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) founder Bryan Stevenson who challenged Memphians to memorialize the twenty-one known victims of lynching in Shelby County.

LSP is part of a growing network of people who want the whole and accurate truth to be told about the history of Shelby County. The nonprofit believes we can heal and grow in understanding when we face openly the history of racial violence in our community.

The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis collaborates with others to cultivate courageous conversations and programs that uncover the whole truth of racial terror and violence and change the narrative in Shelby County, leading to understanding, compassion, and healing, while working toward racial equality and justice.

Ida B. Wells is one of the driving forces behind The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis. LSP adopted her quote “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them” in many of their programs. "We are thankful for her brave legacy, and for guiding our vision of creating a new legacy of racial equality and justice by turning the light of truth on lynchings in Shelby County, Tennessee."

Other events important in the history of LSP

· On Dec. 10, 2015, LSP organized and Interfaith Prayer Service attended by over 150 people in downtown Memphis in which all the names of known victims of Shelby County lynchings were read as part of the service.

· In 2016, LSP organized an ongoing research committee that has thus far discovered an additional fourteen lynching victims in Shelby County. The research continues.

· In May of 2017, Over 500 people attended the Centennial Prayer Service to commemorate the lynching of Ell Persons; about half black and half white, representing Muslim, Jewish, Christian and other faiths with over 35 Memphis-area congregations represented.

· Throughout 2017 and 2018, LSP hosted and presented to numerous religious and academic groups locally and from around the country.

· In February of 2018, LSP conducted a panel discussions following Sunday Matinee presentations of a play entitled Elephant’s Graveyard based on the historical facts of a known lynching of an Elephant in September of 1916.

· In January of 2019, LSP participated in a public forum on racial terrorism at the Art, Race, and Violence, A Collaborative Response by the University of Memphis Art Department.

· During May of 2019, LSP began a partnership with Playback Memphis, as a Community Matters Partner. LSP was the featured Non-Profit in October 2019.

· LSP began a partnership with StoryCorps during September and October of 2019, and several members gave interviews in the Mobile Storytelling Unit.

· On October 19, 2019, LSP held a marker dedication and courageous conversation to commemorate the lynchings of Wash Henley and 1851 Name Unknown at the historic Collins Chapel CME Church, Memphis.

· In January of 2020, On behalf of the Shelby County/Memphis Community, LSP submitted a proposal to the Equal Justice Initiative to bring the duplicate marker to Shelby County.

LSP is actively researching lynching sites. Our very own board member, John Ashworth is the current President of The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis and can be contacted at for all things LSP. Hear John speak about LSP during our March Zoom call with fellow TN racial justice organizations here.


THJ Affirms the Right to Teach True History

Illustration by Terry Laban

Tennesseans for Historical Justice looks to Ida B. Well’s words: “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth on them” to assert the importance of teaching the history of racial injustices.

In response to the Tennessee General Assembly’s recently passed Senate Bill 623, House Bill 580, THJ affirms the right of our teachers to teach true history. The new bill prohibits lessons on white privilege and racial biases. Counter to Ida B. Well’s words “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth on them,” this bill limits efforts to seek healing in our schools by banning lessons on systemic racism. THJ highlights Dave Yoder’s experiences as a high school teacher to reflect on the consequences of this legislation.

“Fifty years ago, I was a high school teacher and freshman football coach. I was asked to fill in for the department head in his U.S. History class. The class happened to be studying the period of the Second World War.” In preparing for the lesson, Dave reviewed the U.S. history textbook. He noticed the absence of “true history” in the textbook; in particular, the inattention to the role of Black soldiers and the misleading characterizations of Japanese American internment camps.

“I found just one sentence—and only one—about African Americans in the war amid all of the chapters. It was a one liner that negro soldiers fought in separate units.” There was little to share with students about the valor of African Americans in fighting for our democracy, and no discussion of the discrimination, violence and murder that soldiers encountered when they returned home. Dave shared resources found outside of the textbook. A careful curriculum was urgently needed to explore the experiences of Black soldiers in the war.
The textbook further deceptively described Japanese Americans as “relocated” from the coastal region for their safety. “I had attended junior college in California and met several Japanese American students and families,” Dave remembered. “I had learned that ‘relocation’ meant the stealing of Japanese American business and other assets and the internment of whole American families in concentration camps. I shared my education with my students.”

With the passing of this bill, teachings on racial injustices and discrimination throughout history will be unlawful in Tennessee. Our state has overlooked the needed updates to “our” educational system, and instead regressed by limiting our children’s ability to learn the truth of our racial history. The truth is our path toward justice, conciliation and healing. The history of Tennessee is built on enslaved and exploited labor. We must do better to right our wrongs by teaching historical truths, instead of supporting state-mandated ignorance.

It is the opinion of Tennesseans for Historical Justice that legislative action should not be a barrier to educating Tennessee youth about the roles and contribution all ethnic groups have played in the history of this country. That education should be complete and include the realities of the legacy of our nation's past and its effect on America today. In the words of Luther Caesae Keith, “History is not about the story of men and women of one race or color and the neglect or omission of the men and women of another race or color. It is not the glorification of any people of a single color to the exclusion of those of other colors, but it is the story of all peoples irrespective of race or color. It deals with people in all times and places and should present the contributions of all peoples to world civilizations.”

Listen to THJ's President, Lamont Turner, as he shares his thoughts on critical race theory during the Franklin Justice and Equity Coalition and One WillCo's recent live stream. 

John Ashworth, THJ Board Member

"I don't sit around well." -John Ashworth

This week we are getting to know John Ashworth. John is a founding board member of Tennesseans for Historical Justice Board of Directors and is an advocate for racial justice and equity in Tennessee.

John served as project director for the Lynching Sites Project (LSP) on the 100th Anniversary Memorialization of the lynching of Ell Persons in 1917. This event resulted in the founding of the Memphis Branch of NAACP and a visit to the site by the then Field Secretary of NAACP, James Weldon Johnson. John went on to become the Executive Director of LSP and is now the board chairperson for LSP. In his capacity as chair of the board of LSP, he is working with the Memphis Memorial Committee-Honoring Ida B. Wells. A full-size statue to Ida B. Wells will be unveiled and dedicated on Beale Street on her birthday in July. Her life story and the comments of James Weldon Johnson upon visiting the lynching site of Ell Persons, are two of the driving forces behind the work John is involved in with THJ and LSP.  There are many highlights of his activities related to the sojourn of African Americans in this country, which includes the founding and dedication of the Dunbar Carver Museum in Brownsville, TN in 2007 and a founding member and treasurer of the Geneva Miller Historical Society

In early 2010, he began working with Jim Emison, retired Alamo, TN attorney investigating the lynching of Elbert Williams in 1940. John was one of many volunteers with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama during the grand opening of the Peace and Justice Memorial to Lynching victims in 2018.

John holds an Associates Degree from Columbia University with additional studies at DeVry Institute of Technology, Tennessee State University, and Eastern Michigan University.  

John is a twenty-one-year military veteran and had duty stations throughout the US and the Caribbean. He is a holder of the Bronze Star for service in Vietnam.

In addition to his military career, he spent twenty years managing domestic and international airport operations for Eastern Airlines and Northwest Airlines.  He was a member of the launch team for the first non-stop commercial flight between the United States and China with the launch of service by Northwest Airlines between Detroit and Beijing in 1996.   

Living in a small rural community allows him to remain civically engaged. He is the Secretary of the Haywood County Election Commission, Member of the Brownsville Planning Board, and Brownsville Historical Commission.

As John describes himself, “I don’t sit around well”. Among his most cherished activities is being “Co-Director of the Ashworth Center for Exceptional Grandchildren”.  He is an avid chess player and amateur photographer who loves reading and working with his hands. He and his wife of 55 years are constantly finding ways to repurpose materials from their 113 year old house. Their latest creation is a bookcase from an old Victorian Era Door (picture below).  
One of John’s favorite quotes is from Robert Kennedy, “Some men see things as they are, and say why. I dream things that never were, and say why not”.

He's currently reading The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee and Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause by Ty Seidule.
John recently appeared on "Faithfully Memphis" a Podcast sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee. 
Left to right: John is pictured with his wife of 55 years, with one of his "exceptional" grandchildren on the beach in Florida, at his hobby of photography at Mohammed Ali's funeral in Louisville, and the bookcase he and his wife created from an old Victorian era door from their home. 
Meet the Team


Join The Education Trust in Tennessee on June 17th at 4:00 PM for a webinar on the recently passed legislation, which bans critical conversations about systemic oppression and racism in Tennessee's classrooms. Hear from an expert panel on what this ban may mean for Tennessee's teachers and students. 

THJ Board Member, Brittany Paschall, is a featured panelist. Click the button below to register for the webinar. 



A mission of the Tennesseans for Historical Justice is to collect information about racial violence in Tennessee and make it available to the public. Our hope is that people will use this information to conduct further research into these cases and stories to better understand our history and learn how to more effectively and completely address current incidents of racial terror to promote transparency, justice, and conciliation.

Specifically, we are collecting cases and stories of racially-motivated beatings, hangings, bombings, and violence regardless of whether the case has been solved and the assailant prosecuted. We need to make a complete and thorough list for posterity.

We are seeking to uncover stories of individuals who were victims of violence motivated by an anti-racial bias. We know that many of these cases are documented in the state and the federal criminal justice system through police reports, grand jury transcripts, and other court records. While we are looking for these documents, we are also searching for stories that may have only been recounted in a newspaper or magazine article, or maybe not documented at all.

Through our work, we know that a good number of instances of racial violence exist only in the memories of the individuals who experienced the terror, witnessed the incident, or who heard about it through family lore. Understandably, these folks are hesitant to share these stories for fear of retaliation against them and their families. The fear of more violence, for exposing the truth of the past, is real. Without a proper investigation of these cases and stories, however, the people of Tennessee will never know their past. As the old adage goes, if we don't understand our history, we are doomed to repeat it.

Tennesseans for Historical Justice pledges to investigate all reports of racial violence with compassion, sensitivity, and with an eye towards justice and conciliation, pursuant to Chapter 966 Tennessee Public Acts 2018.

We need your help. Let's work together to understand our history and make the state a safer and more welcoming place for all.

Click the button below to send us information you may have on cases or stories of racial violence in Tennessee.



Along the path to justice, conciliation, and healing are many broken pieces.

It is never too late for justice. It is never too late for conciliation.

It is never too late for healing.

Tennesseans for Historical Justice is a Tennessee non-profit 501c3 corporation. Our mission is to uncover the truth about racial violence in Tennessee in order to achieve justice, conciliation and healing across our state. Victims of racial violence deserve justice and our state deserves healing. But we cannot do this alone.

We need your help. Join our team, volunteer, or make a donation- we are eager to work with you! Click the button below to find out how you can support our mission.

Copyright © 2021 Tennesseans for Historical Justice, All rights reserved.

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