Montgomery, Alabama has an array of civil rights museums and monuments that are important to visit and learn from, and The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice are two destinations that should be visited.
The Legacy Museum is located at 115 Coosa Street and features “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration.” The museum is located on a site in Montgomery where enslaved people were once warehoused. It is a block away from one of the most prominent slave auction spaces in America and just steps away from an Alabama dock and rail station where tens of thousands of black people were trafficked during the 19th century.
The interactive exhibits inside are powerful and important to watch. Go back in time and learn about the history of the slave trade in America. The exhibit continues through our country’s history into current time.
Photographs were not allowed inside, but it is most definitely a must-see. There is a bookstore and coffeeshop nearby here you can browse items to support the museum and the Equal Justice Initiative.
The Legacy Museum employs unique technology to dramatize the enslavement of African Americans, the evolution of racial terror lynchings, legalized racial segregation and racial hierarchy in America. Relying on rarely seen first-person accounts of the domestic slave trade, EJI’s critically acclaimed research materials, videography, exhibits on lynching and recently composed content on segregation, this museum explores the history of racial inequality and its relationship to a range of contemporary issues from mass incarceration to police violence.
Visitors encounter a powerful sense of place when they enter the museum and confront slave pen replicas, where you can see, hear, and get close to what it was like to be imprisoned awaiting sale at the nearby auction block. First-person accounts from enslaved people narrate the sights and sounds of the domestic slave trade. Extensive research and videography helps visitors understand the racial terrorism of lynching, and the humiliation of the Jim Crow South. Compelling visuals and data-rich exhibits give visitors the opportunity to investigate America’s history of racial injustice and its legacy, drawing dynamic connections across generations of Americans impacted by the narrative of racial difference.
Schedule time to see The National Memorial for Peace and Justice on 417 Caroline Street next. 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. Because this site is so powerful and full of emotion, I find it hard to find the right words to describe the experience that I had here. Here is information from the website that can describe what you see at this memorial:
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.
Work on the memorial began in 2010 when EJI staff began investigating thousands of racial terror lynchings in the American South, many of which had never been documented. EJI was interested not only in lynching incidents, but in understanding the terror and trauma this sanctioned violence against the black community created. Six million black people fled the South as refugees and exiles as a result of these “racial terror lynchings.”
Set on a six-acre site, the memorial uses sculpture, art, and design to contextualize racial terror. The site includes a memorial square with 800 six-foot monuments to symbolize thousands of racial terror lynching victims in the United States and the counties and states where this terrorism took place.
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.
As you plan your trip to Montgomery, don’t miss seeing the Dexter Avenue Church and Parsonage.