A project of the Equal Justice Initiative, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened to the public on April 26, 2018 and is the first memorial in the United States dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of African Americans who were the victims of lynching and other forms of racial violence. The memorial also shares the story of people who faced violence while they were enslaved, as well as the trauma of segregation, racial discrimination, and police violence.
The Equal Justice Initiative began creating
the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in 2010 to memorialize the African
Americans enslaved, segregated, tortured and lynched. This memorial also honors
the African Americans who currently suffer from police violence and
marginalization. The Equal Justice Initiative wanted to memorialize and openly confront
the horrors of how African Americans were treated in American, and how that
history rings true today.
Set on a six-acre site, sculptures, text,
narrative and monuments guide visitors through the history of America’s racial
inequality. At the center of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice is a
memorial square, built by the Mass Design Group, that represents all lynching
victims. The memorial documents the history of slavery, segregation, lynchings,
the civil rights movement and current issues of police violence and racial
The Equal Justice Initiative’s website
states a reaction to the question of “Why Build a Memorial to Victims of Racial
Terror?” The reaction statement from the website follows.
“The Equal Justice Initiative believes that
publicly confronting the truth about our history is the first step towards
recovery and reconciliation. A history of racial injustice must be
acknowledged, and mass atrocities and abuse must be recognized and remembered,
before a society can recover from mass violence. Public commemoration plays a
significant role in prompting community-wide reconciliation.”1