Tuesday, 22 October, 2019

New memorial ends the 'silence' on a history of lynching

New memorial ends the 'silence' on a history of lynching New memorial ends the 'silence' on a history of lynching
Patty Aguilar | 28 April, 2018, 03:52

Etched on each column is the name of an American county and the people who were lynched there, most listed by name, many simply as "unknown".

Each of the 800 columns has a twin, an exact replica for each county that can be claimed by those willing to grapple with their histories and relocate them to their communities. In accepting the award, Kaepernick said, "Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation-the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex".

No prominent public memorial or monument commemorates the thousands of African Americans who were lynched in America.

"They're coming here for the civil rights history and stuff from all over the country but it's kind of neat how I can give them the history of Montgomery through hot dogs so it's neat to talk to these people that come through", says Gus Katechis, Owner and Manager of Chris' Hot Dogs.

This is a true American horror story.

"It's been pretty surreal-growing up in DE you're aware of everything that was happening and so forth but when you come here and you sit in the seats and walk in the shoes of the people before us-it's mind blowing", says Stephanie Stephens.

"They didn't ever believe he committed suicide".

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People do not want to admit wrongdoing in the U.S., Stevenson said, because they expect only punishment.

"I'm not interested in talking about America's history because I want to punish America", Stevenson told The New York Times.

"I think there is a better America still waiting". The memorial opens the same week that Alabama marks Confederate Memorial Day, an official state holiday in which state offices will close.

The initiative's headquarters are a few blocks away in a building that was once a warehouse in Montgomery's sprawling slave market.

It is not a conventional museum, heavy on artifacts and detached commentary. The organization has documented over 4000 lynchings from 1877 to 1950.

The museum ends with a nod toward the future. But there are good reasons for it. Several of the organization's clients are featured, including Ray Hinton, a man whose conviction was overturned after 30 years on Alabama's death row. The case for his innocence seemed straightforward, but lawyers at the Equal Justice Initiative spent 16 years working for his freedom, appealing the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Stereotypes and false characterizations of black people were created to defend their permanent enslavement as "most necessary to the well-being of the negro" - an act of kindness that reinforced white supremacy.

"I refuse to believe that it's hopeless because I am a product of what can happen when you fight", he said.

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