The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) has unveiled plans for the Memorial to Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. Designed in collaboration with Boston-based MASS Design Group, the new memorial is intended to acknowledge victims of lynching throughout American history. EJI also plans to construct a museum, called “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration,” inside its headquarters—a former slave warehouse in downtown Montgomery—with the goal of tracing racial history in the U.S. from the earliest days of slavery, through the Jim Crow era, to the present day.
Situated on the highest point of Montgomery—the first capital of the Confederacy—the memorial is composed of two parts: one permanent, one mobile. MASS designed a large rectangular pavilion from which 800 6-foot columns will be suspended, representing the counties where lynchings took place. Every column will be inscribed with the names of the individuals killed there. In an adjacent field on the six-acre site, duplicates of the columns will stand until they are claimed by and relocated to the counties they represent as permanent markers and memorials to the victims from those areas.
“Our goal isn’t to be divisive,” EJI director Bryan Stevenson told the New York Times. “Our goal is just to get people to confront the truth of our past with some more courage.”
This is not the first EJI’s first project commemorating racial violence: Last year, after releasing a report documenting more than 4,000 lynchings that took place between 1877 and 1950, the group collected soil from the sites around the country. The soil will go on display in glass jars in the museum.
To date, the group has raised about 40 percent of the $20 million project, which is expected to open sometime next year.
“We are honored to work on the memorial project and look forward to sharing future progress,” said MASS co-founder and CEO Michael Murphy.