Our Lynching Legacy and The Memorial to Peace and Justice
I’ve got a new, interesting movie for you if you haven’t seen it: The Free State of Jones. It’s based on a true event in history when a Mississippi county/region seceded from the Confederacy and declared all people free. Neither Wayne nor I had heard of this incident. It was fascinating to learn about this region so deep in the Deep South, and the man who led the people there, having the courage to stand up to the prevailing oppression. The bonus material on the DVD with interviews from descendants and historians was the most fascinating part.
At the same time, I read the cover story of the September issue of Christianity Today that memorializes the victims of lynching in the US. Every victim is named on the cover or in the article, all 4000 of them. What really captured my interest was the description of a new memorial to these victims being constructed in Montgomery, Alabama. This is a remarkable structure that I will not try to describe. I’m posting the link here so you can see the pictures and read the description. It will be a haunting and hopefully healing place. One facet I love is that in a field adjacent to the memorial there will be markers similar to headstones. There will be a marker for each county in our country where a lynching occurred, and the residents of these counties will need to travel to Montgomery to collect their own marker and put it up for display in their own town. If a particular county refuses to take responsibility for the marker, it will stay on the hillside in that field, a “conspicuous token” of that county’s “unowned sin.”
Wow! What an indictment that would be, if a whole county refused to admit that their ancestors had participated in this national sin. Proverbs 28:13 claims, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
I want to make that pilgrimage and claim that marker. I want to remember and honor those innocent victims of a terrible time in our history. Let’s help publicize The Memorial to Peace and Justice and support its construction.