We found our way to Montgomery, Alabama mostly because of Anne and Ron’s recommendation of the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Also, there is a shop we thought would be able to do a front-end alignment on the bus, they are not that easy to come by. So, the short story is that the shop kept the bus from 8:15am until almost 4pm to determine that they couldn’t do the job.
The long story is centuries old and more disturbing than we (randy and I) have allowed ourselves to believe. The Legacy Museum is sponsored by eji – Equal Justice Initiative. “They are committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the US, to challenging racial and economic injustice and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.”
I am not sure how to share the story. It is something we all know but often choose not to think about. We (Randy and I) are white Americans, middle class Americans trying to live in a bubble. Much of this story has not affected our lives the way it probably should have. Every one of us needs to open our eyes and hearts to the plight of the less fortunate “most vulnerable” people in our communities.
The story of course starts with the forced enslavement of millions of African men women and children being shipped against their will to be bought and sold, owned and abused. Importing slaves became illegal in the US in 1807, but the slave trade continued for much longer.
Slavery by itself is abhorrent and should have never happened, but the belief that black people are less intelligent and unable to take care of themselves so they were being helped by being enslaved is unbelievable. We all know about the Civil War and its “end” to slavery with the thirteenth amendment, right? This finally happened in the 1860s 50 years after importing slaves became illegal…
End of story right, ummmm no. During the next 100 years – let that sink in 100 MORE YEARS. Blacks were segregated, treated as non-people, lynched, murdered, spit upon daily. They lived and worked in the USA and were not allowed to vote or participate in government of any sort, hell they couldn’t even choose any seat on a city bus or which bathroom they wanted use. Not all white Americans believe in the superiority of the white person, but enough did and still do to make life hell for many black people.
When slavery became illegal other means were found to keep the black people in their places. Segregation of all public services became LAW – bathrooms, water fountains, city buses, restaurants (you know the Jim Crow Laws) – and when segregation didn’t work public lynching occurred. Lynching is when a mob of people kill a person or multiple people for any ALLEGED offense with or without evidence or conviction for the offense. The killing could be hanging, burning, drowning mostly in a public venue.
A large part of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice is dedicated to remembering the victims of lynching since slavery was abolished. They have a column for each county in each state where documented lynchings occurred with the names of the victims if known and dates of the event. It is daunting!!!
Below are some of the details of documented lynchings. UNBELIEVABLE
I am sure that many protests, marches, revolts and other actions were taken by black people to obtain their dignity and worth as US citizens (originally brought here unwillingly/forcibly), but we mostly learned about Montgomery and near-by events. Again, I know we all learned this in school, but that was a long time ago and I think this is worth revisiting.
Rosa Parks – I knew the name and story of her not giving up her seat on a city bus for a white person. But I didn’t realize that this one act of defiance in 1955 – get that 1955, started the Montgomery city bus boycott. Black people throughout the city refused to ride the buses for over a year. Just imagine being so unquestionably involved in a protest that you are willing to walk to work for a year to prove a point??? And not just you but most every black person in the entire city. Would like to think that some white people boycotted as well???
1965 – the year I was born. March of 1965 to be exact, a constituent of about 600 people tried to march from Selma, AL to the Capitol Montgomery, AL to guarantee voting rights for black people. The march was stopped after less than a mile at the Edmund Pettis Bridge by the state patrol and other interested citizens wielding guns and tear gas. On their third attempt with National Guard protection and judicial authority the march was successful. Later that year in August Lyndon Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act which guaranteed the right to vote to all African Americans. This right was granted in 1870 by the 15th amendment to the constitution of the US, but not enforced until 95 YEARS LATER….
Now that slavery is illegal and black people can vote and elect people to protect their
interests, there had to be another way to hold them down. In the 1970s for various reasons the rate of incarceration began to increase dramatically. Statistics as shown on the below graph speak for themselves. How could we turn a blind eye to this??? I have heard the stories, seen the news, absorbed the gripes and complaints, all the while believing that the USA is a fair and just country that will protect its own. Who could be more our own???
People in my opinion this is terrorism plan and simple Domestic Homegrown Unforgiveable Terrorism. Forget the wall stop yourselves!!!! May we all learn and react?!?!
The incarceration rate is decreasing, but not as fast as it increased. I am not sure what the future holds for American, men women and children that happen to have darker skin than I do, but I do understand why they live in fear!!!
Peace and Justice for all!!!