The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum, both located in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, will open to the public April 26.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, located on a six-acre site atop a rise overlooking downtown Montgomery, is the nation’s first comprehensive memorial dedicated to racial terror lynchings of African Americans and the legacy of slavery and racial inequality in America.
The memorial and museum are projects of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a private non-profit organization that is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
"There is still so much to be done in this country to recover from our history of racial inequality," said EJI Executive Director Bryan Stevenson. "I'm hopeful that sites like the ones we are building and conversations like the ones we're organizing will empower and inspire people to have the courage to create a more just and healthy future. We can achieve more in America when we commit to truth-telling about our past."
The memorial uses sculpture, art, and design to contextualize racial terror and includes a memorial square with 800 six-foot monuments to identify thousands of racial terror lynching victims in the United States and the counties and states where this terrorism took place. The memorial aspires to advance truth and reconciliation in the United States. Counties are invited to bring the monuments to their communities to acknowledge the history of racial injustice and confront this history by claiming monuments for their community.
The Legacy Museum – located on the site of a former warehouse where black people were enslaved in Montgomery, Alabama – is a narrative museum housing interactive media, sculpture, videography, and exhibits to immerse visitors in the sights and sounds of the domestic slave trade, racial terrorism, the Jim Crow South, and the world’s largest prison system. The Legacy Museum is located just a short walk from the memorial.
The website dedicated to this work includes the original report, “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror,” which features in-depth information about this era, and an accompanying lesson plan for educators; an interactive map that identifies where lynching occurred, by county; audio recordings of those affected by lynching; and a short film that traces a family’s return to the South.
“After slavery was formally abolished, lynching emerged as a vicious tool of racial control to reestablish white supremacy and suppress black civil rights,” the website says. “These lynchings were public acts of racial terrorism, intended to instill fear in entire black communities. Government officials frequently turned a blind eye or condoned the mob violence.”
For more information on the memorial and museum, visit museumandmemorial.eji.org.
Resource: “Restoring to Wholeness,” a product about racial healing circles from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.