Black history month is often a time when we recognize those African Americans who have sacrificed and made significant contributions to the USA and the world. This year I want to highlight this fantastic memorial and museum in Montgomery, Alabama. As I have traveled around the world, I’ve visited multiple memorials, such as the Memorial to Murdered Jews in Berlin, Germany, and the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. I always hoped for a monument for the thousands of African American’s who were lynched, in my opinion, for the color of their skin.
A few of those people come to mind like Scott Henry, who was shot for asking a white woman to wait until he had prepared another woman’s train cabin, and Henry Lowry, a sharecropper who was burned to death for just asking to be paid his wages. These are only two examples of the thousands of tragic stories of injustices against people of color.
For the hanged and beaten, for the shot, drowned and burned for the tortured, tormented, and the terrorized. For those abandoned by the rule of law, we will remember.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, remembers all those individuals slain during a very dark period in this country of racist terror. At the center of this six-acre site overlooking Alabama’s State Capital is a walkway with 800 steel columns hanging from the roof. Each column etched with the name of those who were lynched and the county in which it happened. Even those whose names we do not know are remembered with the year of death and a simple “unknown.”
There is something beautiful and haunting about the memorial. As you enter along the paved path, you come across life-like statues of slaves, most notably a woman in chains holding her baby that sent chills through me in 80-degree weather. And then you come to the weathered columns like headstones at a grave that meet you at eye level and then you gradually descend a ramp wherein the end water cascades down the concrete walls, thus standing below the columns dangling above. Alas, a peaceful place to sit, reflect, and remember.
True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice” -Dr. Martin Luther King
Montgomery, Alabama may not be on your list of places to visit; however, we all should take the time to support this memorial and the Equal Justice Initiative founded by Mr. Bryan Stevenson. Two and a half hours from Atlanta, Georgia, or Pensacola, Florida, a great day trip from one of those cities. A few miles away from the memorial is an accompanying museum with artifacts, visual presentations, and historical documents that you can visit before or after the memorial.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is located at 417 Caroline St, Montgomery, AL 36104- Entry fee is $5. The museum is located at 115 Coosa Street, Montgomery, AL 36104- Entry fee is $8. Combination Tickets are $10
Oh Sherman … this made me weep. It is impossible to imagine this kind of cruelty inflicted on human beings by other human beings. One doesn’t see this kind of torture in our country now, but it is still far too manifest in other forms. May we see a day when this is not so. Thank you for this powerful story, Sherman!