Opened in April 2018, The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is a sacred place to remember those who suffered and died in the ongoing struggle for racial equality. Located in Montgomery, Alabama on a beautifully designed site, The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to enslaved black people.
At the beginning of your walk to the memorial, a somber tone is quickly established by viewing life-sized human sculptures chained around the neck, hands, and feet as if being auctioned off. The artist quite effectively depicts the fear and rage felt by those real human beings, who were sold like a piece of farm equipment. This immediate gut punch sets the tone for the remainder of the memorial.
Past the sculptures, the path continues to the memorial. The beautifully designed monument is striking as you approach. Soon you will realize the rows of hanging steel columns, similar to a coffin’s size and shape, represent every county in the US where a documented lynching occurred. The rows are endless.
There are 805 of these coffin-shaped columns. Not surprisingly, most are from Southern states, but the rest of the U.S. hasn’t been immune to lynchings. Each column lists the county, state, and the name of the victim(s) along with the date of their murder. Killed simply, because of the color of their skin.
The Memorial is stunningly beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. A somber emotion falls upon everyone at this peaceful remembrance. Over 4,000 known deaths of African Americans are represented at the memorial while acknowledging the unknown thousands of others murdered, but cannot be documented. The National Memorial for Peach and Justice is a place to pay respect to the many who should have not died in vain. It represents a disgraceful part of our history that must not be forgotten.
You can obtain a combination admission ticket to experience this memorial and The Legacy Museum, which is located a short drive away. From slavery to Jim Crowe Laws to Mass Incarceration, The Legacy Museum features powerful interactive exhibitions to further explore this tragic time in American history.
Equal Justice Initiative Soil Collection
Inside the Peace and Justice Center where you purchase tickets, you will notice a large wall filled with jars of dirt. The Equal Justice Initiative is collecting soil at lynching sites across the nation. It’s a testament to the power of the memorial, because it holds the blood and tears of those lynched. Each jar is labeled with a name, town, state, and date of a lynching.
Still Curious, then Ask Questions
In The Peace and Justice Center’s auditorium, visitors can ask staff members or attorneys questions in the auditorium at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. daily except Tuesdays and Sundays.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice should be added to your itinerary when you are in Montgomery. It’s worthy of your time to remember those who died fighting for equality.