Oprah, 60 Minutes airs photos of lynchings from new Alabama memorial; here’s why

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Montgomery, Ala. The original capital of the Confederacy, a city once mired in racism, will soon redefine its legacy when it opens the nation’s first memorial dedicated to lynching victims and a new museum dedicated to slavery in the spring.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Alabama’s capital city on April 26, 2018.

EJI lynchings

The Equal Justice Initiative found evidence of more than 4,000 lynchings in states throughout the country. [Photo Credit: EJI]

A project of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), the memorial is devoted to 4,075 blacks EJI’s research shows were killed by lynching in the U.S. from 1877 to 1950. It will serve to acknowledge an era of racial terror in the United States when thousands of African Americans were lynched and publicly tortured, sometimes in the presence of thousands of people.

On Sunday night’s episode of 60 Minutes, Oprah Winfrey visited the memorial before it’s opening to give viewers a glimpse into’s America’s painful history.

As part of the report, the episode showed photos of actual lynchings — a decision CBS said Oprah and a team of producers intentionally made knowing they would disturb many viewers.

“I don’t think the story exists without those photos,” Jeff Fager, the executive producer of the broadcast told CBS.

According to CBS, “News executives have a tendency to self-censor too much, he says, out of concern that viewers will be turned off. For him, the decision to show the photos was about reporting important facts about a little-known but important chapter of history.”

The decision to air the footage partners perfectly to the reason the memorial was created in the first place: the hope of creating a sober, meaningful site where people can gather and reflect on America’s history of racial inequality.

“Our story is about a part of history, really almost 80 years of American history, that isn’t in the history books, 60 Minutes Overtime’s Ann Silvio said of the broadcast. “We don’t see these pictures. We don’t talk about it.”

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1 Comment

  1. peter hamlin on

    still afraid to show photographs of actual lynchings. The hanging twisted burned bodies. The smiling faces. I am still afraid. Others try to deny. But you cannot hide from the truth.
    Be it against black,native,white,asian,-
    it is a bitter truth of the human animal.

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