A statue of a chained man is on display at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a new memorial to honor thousands of people killed in racist lynchings, Sunday, April 22, 2018, in Montgomery, Ala. The national memorial aims to teach about America’s past in hope of promoting understanding and healing.
Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, said he wanted to create a space for people to confront and “deal honestly with this history,” just as South Africa has sites about apartheid and Germany memorializes victims of the Holocaust.
“We don’t have many places in America where we have urged people to look at the history of racial inequality, to look at the history of slavery, of lynching, of segregation,” said Stevenson.
The museum accompanying the memorial is called Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration. It is located on the site of a former slave depot in downtown Montgomery, and seeks to explore slavery’s legacy. The museum explores the eras of enslavement, lynching, Jim Crow and modern criminal justice issues that are the focus of the Equal Justice Initiative’s legal work. Several of the organization’s clients are featured, including Ray Hinton, a man whose conviction was overturned after 30 years on Alabama’s death row.
The memorial opens the same week that Alabama marks Confederate Memorial Day, an official state holiday in which state offices will close.