Beginning at eye level the sheer number of names on the individual memorials representing lynched humans by state and county is overwhelming. But as the memorials increase and elevate you’ll have to strain your neck looking up to see named souls. That’s when it hits you. The strain of your neck in that moment pales in comparison to the strain this archaic practice known as lynching (defined by the Equal Justice Initiative as hanging, burning, shooting, drowning, stabbing, and beating) has put on the American landscape specifically the African American community.
My day in Montgomery was an emotional exercise in acceptance. With so much oppression and violence surrounding the African American experience to see our ancestry honored was in retrospect empowering. It seems impossible at times for me to know myself. Coming from a people stolen and undocumented I resent these Ancestry.com family trees paraded around on commercials and mobile ads. Constant reminders of what I can’t have without that special insights of a Dr. Henry Louis Gates.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice was the first place of healing I’ve found where these sentiments are reconciled, represented and openly addressed. The names, the questions, so much data and the timeless images. This is a museum for the ages. Even Marriott Hotels believes so. Like the Equal Justice Initiative offices a new Marriott property will soon occupy a space that was once a slave warehouse.
This fountain once was a slave trading post.