New Memorial Shining Light on Uncomfortable American History

New Memorial Shining Light on Uncomfortable American History

Chelsea Fisher
eSomethin Editor In Chief

As junior history classes are learning about the Civil Rights movement, many people have already been made aware of a new memorial being constructed in Alabama.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice will be opening to the public on April 26th in Montgomery, Alabama. This memorial was organized by the Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI, a group dedicated to racial justice in America. The lynchings and racial terror our country committed are often swept under the rug and neglected in schools or forgotten. Mentions of lynching history books it is just a couple of lines, it is simply a definition of what it is. People like to think that these types racial terror were exclusive to the south but they were spread across the country. 

“This will become the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence,” explains the EJI website. The memorial museum contains statues, stories, memorial plaques, and other types of impacting art. 

Photo from EJI.org of a statue installment at the memorial

Prior to the time period of the Civil Rights movement, lynchings were like carnivals. They were huge events held in town squares, children and families showed up, people sat on their friend’s shoulders to be able to get a better look (all shown in the 60 Minutes Overtime documentary linked below.) There was no trial and there was no punishment for the white people who committed these crimes.

“It is sad to think that there was a time in our country where a large amount of the population did not think that all human lives matter. This is about human suffering, this is part of all of our histories,” says Mrs. Teresa Camp, a history teacher who has spoken about the memorial.

“The memorial contains 805 steel markers, one for each county where lynchings occurred for more than 70 years following the Civil War. The markers are suspended in air to evoke the horror of being hanged,” says the 60 Minutes website.  

More information on the memorial here, More Information on the museum here, Overview of the memorial here, Video preview here

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