MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Montgomery is home to a national landmark chronicling the country’s legacy of slavery, segregation and racial injustice. The Equal Justice Initiative is expanding that memorial to include the history of lynching.
The display, which opened earlier this month, is called Community Reckoning. It looks back on the horrors of lynching throughout America’s history.
Fifty metal plaques at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice detail, in-depth, each tragedy. It’s just a small sampling of the thousands of African Americans lynched throughout history.
“We’re now able to tell more comprehensive stories about what happened in communities all across America when mobs would violently take the lives of African Americans in this reign of terror that characterized lynching,” EJI Founder Bryan Stevenson said.
Stevenson says he hopes the expansion sparks conversation about the past, so it isn’t repeated.
“This period of time was characterized by mobs that would come to courthouses, jails, pull people out lawlessly, commit horrific acts of barbarity, and then never be held accountable. I think we should be mindful of the factors that caused that to happen so we don’t allow that to happen again,” Stevenson said.
The display also includes a sculpture, titled Arise, honoring the work of communities to reckon with racial injustice. While the display is about looking to the past, Stevenson says he’s glad to see the president recently sign an anti-lynching bill into law.
“To finally in 2022 have an anti-lynching law passed is an achievement, and I think it’s still meaningful that we are finally saying that this is the kind of violence that can never be tolerated in a democracy like ours,” Stevenson said.
The display is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
Stevenson says the goal is to add more monuments to the memorial over time, as more communities recognize lynching locations in their own areas.