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Virginia Counselor and Educator Dr. Judith Reifsteck’s New Book “Memoried and Storied” Lifts Up Commemoration Activism

Soft water colors painting of people on front of book titled Memoried and Storied

Memoried and Storied: Healing Our Shared History of Racial Violence by Judith Reifsteck

book event promotional flyer for Memoried and Storied by Judith Reifsteck

In-Person Author Talk for Memoried and Storied at The City Tavern Club in Washington, DC on May 24th, 2023, 6 pm

In-Person Author Talk for Memoried and Storied at The Belvedere in Charlottesville on May 11th, 2023, 6 pm

Encouraged by Activism and Civic Responsibility, Author's Book Identifies The Impact of Community Remembrance Ceremonies in the South

I believe that memory is power, and it is through the power of sharing and commemorating that we may learn about and repair the past together.”
— Dr. Judith Reifsteck
CHARLOTTSVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, UNITED STATES, May 11, 2023/ -- Be a light. Move humanity forward. This is a sentiment author Dr. Judith Reifsteck expresses through her new book, “Memoried and Storied: Healing Our Shared History of Racial Violence.” “Memoried and Storied” tells the story of four lynchings in the Southern United States from 1878 to 1918.

The vignettes recount the lives of Charlotte Harris, Charles Allie Thompson, John Henry James, and Frazier Baker before they were captured and terrorized. It also focuses on current-day community members who honor their memory with community remembrance ceremonies.

Dr. Reifsteck gained inspiration to write “Memoried and Storied” after visiting the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama in 2020. She used her background as a writer, licensed professional counselor, university professor, social science researcher, and psychotherapist to create its narrative.

“I came home [from visiting the memorial] and was moved to write the story of three lynching victims in my state of Virginia and one victim in the state of South Carolina,” Dr. Reifsteck said.” I believe that memory is power, and it is through the power of sharing and commemorating the specific story of racial terrorism in the U.S. that we may learn about and repair the past together because we will repeat what we don’t repair.”

The book moves beyond the outrage and horror of Post-Civil War lynchings by sharing details about the victims' lives, saying their names, and bringing compassion and healing to their memory through multi-racial, multi-generational, community-led rituals of remembrance. It introduces readers to how they can participate in commemoration activism. This is a type of activism where victims of racial violence and other injustices are remembered in public group events.

Dr. Reifsteck demonstrates the effectiveness of these events in building awareness and moving a step closer to dismantling the systemic racism that strangles our progress. She believes remembrance ceremonies offer communities a way to acknowledge and heal from racial injustice on a local level.

There were approximately 6500 documented lynchings in the U.S. from 1865 to 1950. Multi-racial and multi-generational activists have begun Remembrance Projects and events within communities near the sites of the lynchings have increased. These events have increased in recent years in Virginia, with Community Remembrance Projects happening in Wise County, Virginia, Alexandria, Virginia, and Roanoke, Virginia, in 2022. Many other activists nationwide have researched or commemorated local lynchings and are involved in community learning and advocacy projects.

“If a community conducts a Community Remembrance Project for victims of lynching, and a multi-racial coalition participates and sustains these remembrance activities, then deficiencies in Black history will improve in that community in their public education and in the public civic life of that community,” Dr. Reifsteck said.

To learn more about what’s happening in your area, search “Lynching Memorials” and your state name. Or, contact your community branch of the NAACP or any other racial justice or human rights organization in your community or a neighboring community.

ABOUT Dr. Judith Reifsteck

Dr. Judith Reifsteck is a counselor, author, and educator. Since 1976, she has worked as a writer, licensed professional counselor, university professor, social science researcher, and psychotherapist. In 2016, she stepped away from teaching and psychotherapy to write full-time. Dr. Reifsteck is a mother, grandmother and community volunteer for racial justice coalitions. She writes narrative non-fiction, editorials, and essays.
While working as an individual and family counselor for 40 years, Dr. Reifsteck specialized in helping individuals and families cope with the effects of trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

She also counseled refugees and immigrants, helping them adjust to their new lives in the United States. Additionally, she worked with those in recovery from addiction, helping them to develop healthy coping skills and strategies for long-term sobriety.

Dr. Reifsteck maintains strong connections to racial Justice organizations in her community. She is the secretary of the Harrisonburg Rockingham County branch of the NAACP. Her writing aims to advocate for the vulnerable who do not have visibility or a voice in their communities. She hopes her work leads others to join multiracial coalitions to learn an accurate and inclusive Black History. She believes that in memorializing the stories and the victims of racial injustice, we may repair the trauma and tell the true story of structural racism i

Dawn Michelle Hardy
The Literary Lobbyist
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