The first memorial in the United States dedicated to the victims of white supremacy opens in Montgomery, Alabama, Thursday.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice by the non-profit Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI, overlooks the Alabama State Capitol and seeks to shine a light on a terrifying chapter of American history that is rarely talked about: the lynchings of some 4,400 black Americans across the South during a rampage of horror and violence that went on for decades.
“We need to find ways to live in this country and talk about things we haven’t talked about,” EJI founder Bryan Stevenson told The Root. Stevenson said discussing this shadowy part of American history may be uncomfortable for some, but he said it’s necessary in order to move beyond it. “It isn’t about retribution,” he said.
Almost 25 percent of the victims of lynching were accused of sexual assault and nearly 30 percent were accused of murder, The Root reported.
The memorial was created from 800 hanging steel columns with the county and names of people lynched there etched into the column, including “unknown” victims.
The memorial site also includes the Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration.
A two-day summit, which is part of the opening events this week, is already sold out.
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