A bronze statue entitled “Raise Up”, is included at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a new memorial to honor thousands of people killed in lynchings and Map of United States showing lynchings
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, also referred to as the lynching museum, opened in Montgomery, Alabama, last Anderson/AP
The memorial and museum are a project of the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a legal advocacy group that hopes to create a site for reflection on America’s history of racial inequality.
AP The idea for the memorial came out of the EJI’s investigation into the history of lynchings in the American south. The group documented more than 4,400 lynchings between 1877 to 1950, visiting thousands of lynching sites, collecting soil and erecting markers along the way. The soil is now part of the museum’s display, with each jar labeled with the name of a victim.
Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser via USA Today Network
The six-acre site includes a memorial square and 800 six-foot monuments symbolizing each county in the United States where lynchings took place and engraved with names. A second set of identical monuments left unadorned wait to be claimed and installed likely in the places where the lynchings occured.ndersoP
The group hopes the site helps people more honestly confront the legacy of slavery, lynching and segregation.
“Our nation’s history of racial injustice casts a shadow across the American landscape,” EJI Director Bryan Stevenson said. “This shadow cannot be lifted until we shine the light of truth on the destructive violence that shaped our nation, traumatized people of color, and compromised our commitment to the rule of law and to equal justice.”
The lynchings forced Blacks to flee in terror from the South to the North. “Black people living in Oakland, California, Chicago, and New York are refugees from terror. They fled the South to escape lynching,” said Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, which had the museum constructed to pull the wraps off an untold story of America’s history. The story will make some Blacks as well as Whites uncomfortable and even angry.
Historically, however, lynchings entertained some Whites. Some made a day of it, attending with picnic baskets. The museum, which is located in Montgomery. Alabama, the state’s capital and one-time seat of the Confederacy, was founded by The Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit advocacy organization based in Montgomery. EJI published “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror.”
Since the report’s release, EJI has supplemented its original research by documenting racial terror lynchings in states outside the Deep South. Lynchings, for example, occurred in Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia and Nebraska.
On June 15, 1920, a mob dragged Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie, employees of the John Robinson Circus, from their jail cells and lynched them for allegedly raping Irene Tusken, a 19-year-old, although Dr. David Graham’s examination of Tusken found no evidence of sexual assault.
That information did not prevent newspapers from publishing numerous stories about the alleged rape. The story about the lynchings is told in the 1979 book “The Lynchings in Duluth,” by Michael Fedo. A photo of the three men who had been lynched was made into postcards at the time and shown throughout Duluth.
Bob Dylan’s song “Desolation Row” recalls the lynching. Dylan was born in Duluth but grew up in Hibbing, Minnesota.
There is an admission fee and fees to attend other museum events. During the museum’s opening week, speakers will include Michelle Alexander, author of the book “The New Jim Crow,” former Vice President Al Gore, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D. NJ), and Ray Hinton, who spent nearly 30 years on Alabama’s death row for a crime he did not commit.
Last Friday, the museum hosted a concert for the opening, featuring performances by The Roots, Dave Matthews, Usher, Common, and more.