The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a six-acre site overlooking the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery opened to the public on Thursday.
Dedicated to 4,075 blacks that research by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) shows were killed by lynching in the U.S. from 1877 to 1950, the memorial features their names engraved on 800 steel rectangles, one for each U.S. county where lynchings occurred.
The site will also feature a museum, From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, that will be situated within 150 yards of one of the South’s most prominent slave auction sites and the Alabama River dock and rail station where tens of thousands of enslaved black people were trafficked. The museum will contain high-tech exhibits, artifacts, recordings, and films, as well as comprehensive data and information on lynching and racial segregation. It will also connect the history of racial inequality with contemporary issues of mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and police violence.
An official opening ceremony for memorial will take place at the Montgomery Convention Center in downtown Montgomery Thursday evening. it will be accompanied by the two-day EJI Peace and Justice Summit at the Montgomery Performing Arts Center.
Alabama 7th District U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, who will be in attendance for the opening ceremony of the unveiling on Thursday, said the memorial “puts on display the unspeakable brutality and the human cost of lynching.”
“The National Memorial for Peace and Justice puts on display the unspeakable brutality and the human cost of lynching and racial terror in America,” explained Sewell. “No matter how painful, these are memories which our nation must confront. We cannot appreciate how far we have come without acknowledging where we have been.”
“It is especially powerful that this Memorial finds its home in Alabama, where more than 300 African Americans were killed by lynching and millions more were terrorized by white supremacy. In Montgomery, where dozens of markers still commemorate the confederacy, a remembrance of racial violence and its victims is long overdue. Along with the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, the Rosa Parks Museum, and other historic sites in Montgomery, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice uses the lessons learned from our past as a model for healing and sustainable economic growth that will give visitors from around the world a truer understanding of our history.”