Black Lynching Victims: Memorial Opens Next Year in Montgomery

Black Lynching Victims: Memorial Opens Next Year in Montgomery


By David Love

Finally, the U.S. will have a memorial to lynching, the dreaded, horrific and quintessentially American institution rooted in racial violence and terrorism.  The Equal Justice Initiative, the Montgomery, Alabama-based legal rights organization, will unveil the project today.  As The New York Times reported, the memorial to the thousands of lynchings that took place in the U.S. will rest on six acres in the first capital of the Confederacy, on land that was once public housing.

The organization will also announce plans to open a museum called “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration” in its 11,000-square-foot headquarters in April 2017.  Located in a former slave warehouse, the museum will chronicle the nation’s racial history from the days of slavery to mass incarceration, and like the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, to grapple with our legacy of racism and understand the connection to the present.

“Our goal isn’t to be divisive,” Bryan Stevenson, the director of the Equal Justice Initiative, told the Times. “Our goal is just to get people to confront the truth of our past with some more courage.”

With funding from the Ford Foundation and Google, Stevenson has raised around 40 percent of the $20 million required for the museum and memorial.

Lynching-Report (1)In 2013, Stevenson’s group placed markers throughout Montgomery detailing the city’s history as a slave market. As The New Lynching-Report (1)Yorker reported, while the city had dozens of cast-iron markers referencing its Confederate history, there were none to indicate the presence of the slave trade. And last year, the group released a report called “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror.” The report documents 4,075 lynchings of Black people that took place in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia between 1877 and 1950.

The report discovered several hundred more lynchings than were previously known, and that many of the victims had not been accused of a crime. Rather, “racial terror lynching” was designed to maintain the racial control of Jim Crow segregation by victimizing the entire Black community. Moreover, they were celebratory affairs and horrific “public spectacles” in which the entire white community attended, and no one was held accountable. Lynching was a major impetus leading to the forced migration of millions of African-Americans to the North, and yet there is little effort to address what took place.

Memorial for the Thousands of Black Lynching Victims in America Opens Next Year in Montgomery