My last stop in Montgomery, Alabama is the National Memorial For Peace and Justice. I could NOT leave Montgomery without this visit. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opened to the public on April 26, 2018, is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.
The memorial structure on the center of the site is constructed of over 800 corten steel monuments, one for each county in the United States where a racial terror lynching took place. The names of the lynching victims are engraved on the columns. The memorial is more than a static monument. In the six-acre park surrounding the memorial is a field of identical monuments, waiting to be claimed and installed in the counties they represent. Over time, the national memorial will serve as a report on which parts of the country have confronted the truth of this terror and which have not.
During my visit to the Memorial, the first thing that hit me is Kwame Akoto-Bamfo's "Nkyinkim" sculpture...dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Transatlantic slave trade. This sculpture is soooo deep and gets to your very core. And when viewing this sculpture, you can't help but feel the pain...especially looking at the facial expressions on the individual pieces. I now work my way up the hill to see and photograph the steel monuments. What got to me most about seeing the monuments was that once I entered, the monuments are at eye-level. But as I go further I'm going down a slope, which now the "hanging" monuments are above my head. This really gives me a chilling feel of bodies being hanged and what it must have been like to witness that. It's something that really makes you sit down and cry! Later, after going through the steel monuments, I had a much needed "sit down" at The Ida B. Wells Memorial Grove. Then I marveled at Dana King's "Guided By Justice" statue, dedicated to black women who sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott and collectively walked thousands of miles. The final sculpture is Hank Willis Thomas' "Raise Up" sculpture, which depicts contemporary issues of police violence and racially biased criminal justice.
The National Memorial For Peace and Justice is a history lesson in itself, and is definitely a "MUST SEE" for ALL PEOPLE!!!