The National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in Montgomery, Alabama on April 26th. The memorial is a visual presentation of the history of lynching in America. The memorials creation is the result of the work of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). The EJI website defines it’s mission as “litigating on behalf of condemned prisoners, people wrongly convicted or charged with violent crimes, poor people denied effective representation and others whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct.” Stevenson says that the lynching ,memorial was inspired by the Jewish Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Germany and is a visual reminder of the legacy of African enslavement and the humiliation of Jim Crow.
The memorial and museum are on a six-acre site commemorating the lynching of 4400 victims killed between 1877 and 1850 in the 12 southern states where most lynchings occurred. The EJI website says that “publicly confirming the truth about our history is the first step toward recovery and reconciliation.”
The EJI is partnering with Google on an interactive online experience about the history of lynching in America. The EJI is a valuable resource for extensive reports, available for download, on the history of lynching with a lesson plan. Lynching in America didn’t stop with the beginning of the modern civil rights movement. My next post will provide more recent examples of lynching in America.