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The Death of the Death Penalty

"On March 25, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam formally abolished Virginia’s death penalty. This watershed moment revealed a stained Virginian history little spoken about by its current citizens. Throughout this talk, cultural archaeologist Dale Brumfield dives into the death penalty’s forgotten history through a gripping pairing of stories and statistics, exploring how Virginia went from the “rocket docket” to the modern gateway to abolishing the death penalty in the American South.


This talk was given at a TEDx event in November, 2022 using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community, TEDxYouth@RVA.

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Virginia State Penitentiary presentation
Virginia Museum of History & Culture, Richmond, VA. 
Nov. 9, 2019

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Theme Park Babylon launch, Chop Suey Books, Richmond. 2019


Standers launch, Chop Suey Books, Richmond. 2012


With Virginia State Penitentiary historical marker, 2017. Photo by Scott Elmquist, Style Weekly.

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Signing books, Virginia Museum of History and Culture.

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Discussing death penalty abolition with an attendee at CPAC, Washington Harbor, 2019.


Death penalty abolition panel, Charlottesville, Va, 2019. With (L to R) Shane Claiborne, Michael Stone, Susan Brumfield, Dale Brumfield, former death row prisoner/now paralegal Joe Giarratano.

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With death penalty abolitionist Sister Helen Prejean, Hampton Va. 2018

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(L) Dale and (R) Rev. Dr. LaKeisha Cook at a death penalty prayer vigil at the former site of the Va State Penitentiary, January, 2021

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At the Death penalty abolition bill signing, March 24, 2021, Greensville Correctional Center, Jarratt, Va.

More Videos

Dale Brumfield's Banner Lecture on the Virginia State Penitentiary at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Nov. 9, 2019
Dale Brumfield's appearance on the show "Inside Scoop" with Catherine Read on Fairfax TV ch. 10 on Sept. 3, 2018, talking about Virginia's death penalty.
Rock "N" Roll Hotel Promo video. c. 1986

Rock "N" Roll Hotel Promo video. c. 1986

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This is a promotional video made for "Rock "N" Roll Hotel," the aborted MTV-style feature-length music video made in Richmond in 1982. Starring Judd Nelson, Rachel Sweet, Matthew Penn, Dick Shawn, Joe Grifasi and Donna McKechnie. Directed by Paul Justman, produced by Peter Rodis and Schuster Films. The first version was made in "Wondervision" 3-D but was never released. The second version exists only as a 2-D dub of a VHS tape found in a closet in Culver City, California. This promotional video was also pulled from a 31-year-old VHS tape, and contains a scene not in the final movie - the "I Love Rock and Roll" number.
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