Two years after its seminal report on the history of racial terror in the United States, the Equal Justice Initiative recently launched an interactive site, Lynching in America, in partnership with Google, which gave the organization $1 million grant to continue its important racial justice work.
The site brings together EJI’s extensive research and resulting data and includes the stories of lynching victims, as told by their descendants as well as incredible interactive maps that include the locations of racial terror lynchings and in-depth profiles of people and families whose lives were forever altered by these heinous acts of racial violence. (From the map I quickly found that Leflore County, which is where my grandparents were from in the Mississippi Delta, has the greatest number of those lynched in the country with 48 killed. No wonder they high tailed it out of there to Newark, New Jersey, in the 1940s).
“I don’t think slavery ended in 1865; I think it evolved,” says says EJI founder and executive director Bryan Stevenson. “We had mobs of thousands of people gathering in courthouse yards and fields and doing horrific things to people, and we haven’t done anything to acknowledge that. It is American history, and for us to recover from that violence and that terrorism, we all have to know it and we have to talk about it. I think it will compel us to think differently about what we need to do to correct the past, address the past, but also how we make a better future.”
He continues, “Google has been able to take what we know about lynching, and what we have heard from the families, and what we have seen in the spaces and the communities where these acts of terror took place, and make that knowledge accessible to a lot more people. To create a platform for hearing and understanding and seeing this world that we’ve lived through.”
EJI will open the Memorial to Peace and Justice, a national monument commemorating more than 4,000 African American victims of lynching, and will open a new museum, “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration,” at a former slave warehouse in downtown Montgomery, which also houses its headquarters, next year.
Watch Uprooted, on one family’s story on lynching in Louisiana.
SOURCE: Equal Justice Initiative