As Confederate monuments have began coming down across America, a new museum has risen to memorialize the country’s history of racial terror.
On Thursday, April 26, the Legacy Museum opened in Montgomery, Alabama. The museum chronicles the history of racial injustice in America through oral histories, archival materials, and interactive technology.
The museum is the work of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) which hopes we can create a better future by being honest about our past. “Our nation’s history of racial injustice casts a shadow across the American landscape,” EJI’s director, Bryan Stevenson, said in a statement. “This shadow cannot be lifted until we shine the light of truth on the destructive violence that shaped our nation, traumatized people of color, and compromised our commitment to the rule of law and to equal justice.”
Museum visitors will encounter the brutality of slavery head-on by getting a glimpse what it was like to be imprisoned in a slave pen, which was on the site where the museum stands today. Visitors will also hear dramatic, first-person accounts of the horrors of the slave trade and Jim Crow laws.
Down the road from the museum is the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which features more than 800 hanging monuments that bear the names and locations of 4,400 African-Americans lynched between 1877 and 1950. The Memorial was also created by EJI.
Both projects take a look at racial violence to destroy any future attempts to soften or erase these crucial event of American history. “Our nation has tried very hard to create a picture of slavery that is benign and inoffensive,” Stevenson told artnet News. “We don’t generally show the chains, the suffering, and the brutality. As a result, we’ve done a poor job confronting the legacy of slavery or acknowledging the shame of white supremacy and racial bigotry.”