Perhaps as a primer in advance of a permanent memorial to honor the more than 4,000 known victims of lynching across the U.S., the Equal Justice Initiative, led by the indomitable legal activist Bryan Stevenson, released a short but powerful video, “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror.”
The five-minute short is narrated by Stevenson and illustrated by acclaimed graphic artist Molly Crabapple, who recently partnered with rapper Jay Z to explain why the so-called drug wars did nothing more than lead to the mass incarceration of Black and brown people in the U.S. (“The War on Drugs Is An Epic Fail”).
The video unflinchingly explores America’s brutal history of lynching and provides a powerful history lesson, using individual stories that show, despite “emancipation,” thousands of African Americans were brutally murdered in this country in the name of the White supremacist status quo.
“Racial terror lynchings of Black people defined a shameful era in America,” says Stevenson in the video. “It was not about criminal punishment but about racial hierarchy, and terrorizing the Black community.”
He adds, “There has been no effort in America to confront this history of racial terror. While thousands of Confederate monuments litter the landscape in southern states, there has been no public recognition of the violence endured by black people.”
By telling the truth about our past, EJI believes we can create a different, healthier discourse that can lead to true equality moving forward.
“Contemporary issues like police violence, excessive punishment in the criminal justice system and even harsh and punitive treatment of children of color in schools and on streets can not be understood without a deeper examination of our history of racial violence,” says Stevenson.
Watch “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror” below: