A Sobering Memorial

We started our day by going to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery. After all the reading I’ve done in the past year about the history of black people in the US after the Civil War, I thought this would be an appropriate place to go.

The gardens. So cheerful, which helps.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opened to the public on April 26, 2018, 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.

https://museumandmemorial.eji.org/memorial

As you can imagine, this is a place that inspires contemplation and deep sadness. It’s quite beautiful, and wow do you have to go through a lot of security. That also made me sad.

The grounds are spacious and peaceful.

There is room for a lot more statues, since the memorial is fairly new, but the ones they do have are very moving.

This one appears to have real old shackles on the people. Horrifying.

The main memorial consists of a dark, cool space with these metal rectangles hanging from it, one for each county in the Deep South. On it were listed the victims and the dates of known lynchings.

You feel compelled to read all the victims’ names as you walk through. If you’ve lived in the South much of your life, like me, you feel compared to find the obelisk for counties where you or your ancestors lived.

Here’s Milam County, Texas.

Lee and I wandered an pondered. When we left we found an area in bright sunlight that reminded me of the conditions so many black people were forced to work under, even after slavery ended. This had copies of the obelisks grouped by state. I’m glad we saw this second, because I think the process of moving through the darkened and more random area made you stop and contemplate more.

So many cruel acts and innocent lives lost to remember.

After this, we enjoyed some plantings and more thought provoking statues. Here is one where you can stand in the footprints of some of the women who fought to sit at the front of city buses.

It felt so weird doing this.

The final sculpture really took our breath away. It’s all these black men trying to keep their heads above water (or that’s what it looked like to me).

From a distance.

Up close, you realize the back of the men in the “front” of the sculpture.

I’m glad we got to enjoy the peace garden at the end. It helped transition back to today. I truly feel it was important for me, in particular, to honor these lives lost to the ignorance, fear, and hatred. The people who committed the horrific acts could have been my ancestors and surely were their friends.

We enjoyed the trip out from Montgomery. It’s a prey city

We enjoyed the trip out of Montgomery. It is a pretty city. Here are some things I managed to get pictures of from the car

More later as we visit other places in Alabama and Mississippi.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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