A new and important memorial opened in Montgomery, Alabama two weeks ago. It is the Equal Justice Initiative’s Memorial for Peace and Justice.
In its own words, “the National Memorial for Peace and Justice is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.”
In reporting on the new memorial, the Montgomery Advertiser issued an apology for its past coverage of the victims of lynching: Montgomery Advertiser Coverage. I read all the articles that the Montgomery Advertiser wrote about the New Memorial and walked through the on-line version of the EJI Memorial for Peace and Justice. I am not sure when I will get to Montgomery, so it is important to view this on-line.
What can you do? Support the Movement for Black Lives, Black Lives Matter, Showing up for Racial Justice, Groundwork, Stay Woke, and the Equal Justice Initiative among many organizations. Become involved. If you are a white person, seek out and receive anti-racism training. Call yourself into this movement. Vote for fair judges and district attorneys. Call yourself into action whenever you see racial injustice. Work to create a just future for all. Don’t shy away from this ugly past for the truth will set all of us free.
Reflection: This country has been shaped on slavery, racism, and treatment of the “other” in all forms. This is an ugly history and one that has not been acknowledged or resolved to the level necessary, especially by white people (my community). Sometimes it is said “this is not my history, I wasn’t around at that time, what does it have to do with me?” My answer is everything. This is OUR history. There are those that perpetrated violence and those on the receiving end of violence. And that violence has a deep legacy. It is past time to acknowledge the truth. I am deeply grateful the memorial was built and will go to Montgomery to see it.
We now have a coarseness in our politics that attacks people of color, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, non-Christian peoples, foreigners, etc. And, it is possible for this coarseness to exist because the ugliness of our past is still there, just under the surface, but it is emerging in most of our communities.
You can see this ugliness emerge in Charlottesville, Trump rallies, Welfare Reform 2.0, the Muslim ban, the comments around the Para Olympics, etc. You can see the ugliness emerge in my community with how our Sheriff treats non-citizens. It is all related. If you can make the “other” out of one group, we are all harmed.
I was most moved by EJI director’s Bryan Stevenson’s statement that he and his team did the research and built the memorial because it is clear we will not progress in the law surrounding unequal justice of African Americans until we confront this past.
That statement hit home to me, because we need a sea change in progressing racial justice. Let’s all work every day to bend that arc toward equal justice and treatment for all.