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African American Museum and Lynching Memorial to Open in Montgomery, Alabama

A new museum dedicated to African American history and the United States’ first national memorial to the victims of lynching are currently under construction in Montgomery, Alabama, Erin Edgemon of reports. Spearheaded by the legal rights organization known as the Equal Justice Initiative, the 11,000-square-foot-musuem, located on the site of a former auction and slave warehouse, is scheduled to open as early as 2018.

“We want to create an institution that allows people to experience directly what this history means and what it does,” EJI’s executive director Bryan Stevenson said in April. “In America, we don't talk about slavery. We don't talk about lynching. We don't talk about segregation. Our silence has left us vulnerable to new forms of bigotry and discrimination that we need to address.”

Called “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration,” the museum will contain high-tech exhibits, artifacts, recordings, and films as well as comprehensive data on lynching and racial segregation. The institution will aim to connect the history of racial inequality and injustice to contemporary issues of mass incarceration and police brutality.

The Memorial to Peace and Justice is being built on a six-acre-land parcel that used to be a former public housing complex. The massive classical structure consisting of 801 suspended six-foot concrete columns, each representing a county in the US where lynchings and racial terror took place. The columns will also be engraved with the names of more than four thousand victims.