Beth Harpaz, Associated Press, April 26, 2018
Hundreds of people — including a contingent from Marin City — got a first look Thursday at a new lynching memorial and museum in Montgomery, Alabama.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice commemorates 4,400 black people who were slain in lynchings and other racial killings between 1877 and 1950. Their names, where known, are engraved on 800 dark, rectangular steel columns, one for each U.S. county where lynchings occurred.
Marin City has a connection to the South at the time when lynchings were prevalent. Many blacks from Southern states came to work at Marinship, the shipyard that helped the United States and its allies emerge victorious in World War II. That operation required a 20,000-member workforce, which has been noted for its diversity: 25 percent of employees were women, 10 percent were black. Marin City was created to provide worker housing.
San Francisco philanthropists Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor of the TomKat Foundation funded the trip for the Marin City residents.
Launch events include a “Peace and Justice Summit” featuring celebrities and activists like Ava DuVernay, Marian Wright Edelman and Gloria Steinem.
The summit, museum and memorial are projects of the Equal Justice Initiative, a Montgomery-based legal advocacy group founded by civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson. Stevenson won a MacArthur “genius” award for his human rights work.
The group bills the project as “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.”