Museum documents US history of racism, slavery
The statues of chained men, women and children stick hauntingly out of sand as simulated waves crash overhead, a symbol to the estimated two million people for whom the slave trade ended in a watery grave in the Atlantic Ocean.
The exhibit is part on an expanded museum created by the Equal Justice Initiative that focuses on the legacy of slavery in America.
The expanded Legacy Museum, a companion to the group’s well-known memorial to lynching victims, takes visitors on a journey through the origins of the slave trade through the civil rights era to modern criminal justice issues.
Bryan Stevenson, the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, said the goal of the museum is to teach and confront “parts of American history that are not frequently taught,” an understanding that he says is a requisite for the country to move forward and heal.
The museum ranges from the eras of enslavement, lynching, and Jim Crow laws to mass incarceration and modern criminal justice issues that are the focus of the Equal Justice Initiative’s legal work.
The 3,700-square meter Legacy Museum in downtown Montgomery, Alabama sits on the site of a former cotton warehouse.
The Equal Justice Initiative opened the Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in 2018.
The memorial commemorates 4,400 black people who were slain in lynchings and other racial killings between 1877 and 1950. Their names, where known, are engraved on 800 coffin-shaped columns.
The organization is aiming to create a space for people to confront and “deal honestly with this history,” just as South Africa has sites about apartheid and Germany memorializes victims of the Holocaust.