COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - I was honored to recently tour the brand new National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery.
It’s a special place memorializing the names of African-Americans lynched in each county in the country.
I urge you to see this memorial when you can.
You might wonder why anyone would want to build a monument that remembers and re-tells the horrors of lynching.
You might ask why such a disgusting, immoral, illegal and reprehensible act as lynching should be highlighted in any way.
But lynchings must be remembered so that we never repeat that evil chapter of American history.
The memorial is built on the exact site of slave auctions. Huge metal boxes, almost like caskets, are powerfully displayed with the names of lynching victims engraved, along with the dates of the crime - if known.
The Equal Justice Initiative built the memorial after exhaustive research on lynchings across America.
Every county in Georgia and Alabama and counties in every other state are represented.
The memorial seeks to document lives lost to outrageous vigilante mobs. In some cases, you can learn the story behind the lynchings.
Like the educational marker for Mary Turner, a pregnant Georgia mother lynched in 1918 after complaining about the lynching of her husband Hayes.
I toured this amazing memorial along with my fellow members of the Columbus Mayor’s Commission on Unity, Diversity and Prosperity.
We were all struck, in our own way, by the powerful reactions we had to seeing the vast numbers of names displayed.
The criminals who publicly or secretly hung these men and women did it to make them disappear, as if they never counted.
But the national Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery makes sure victims of lynchings will always count and won’t be forgotten.
I hope the vile history of lynchings in America never fades away.
Schools need to teach about this despicable practice and the history of bigotry that created lynching, so it can never be repeated.
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