Amanda K. Cox
The Martinsville Seven were a group of young Black men convicted of raping a White woman in Martinsville, Virginia. Frank Hairston, Booker Milner, Joe Henry Hampton, Howard Hairston, James Luther Hairston, John Taylor, and Francis DeSales Grayson were executed in February 1951 for the rape of 32-year-old Ruby Stroud Floyd. This was the first time the State of Virginia had executed so many men for a single rape incident, and the fact that all seven of the men were Black served as a reminder of the harsh treatment of Blacks who violated southern racial codes. This entry describes the crime committed by the Martinsville Seven as well as the subsequent trial and execution of the men. Ruby Stroud Floyd was walking through the predominantly Black neighborhood of east Martinsville on January 8, 1949, in order to collect a debt that she was owed. Because Mrs. Floyd was unfamiliar with the ...