Congratulations to Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative on today’s history-making opening of the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Designed to show how our nation’s history of slavery, lynching, and discrimination set the stage for modern-day injustices such as mass incarceration and police brutality, The Legacy Museum serves as a center of public information and an overdue memorial to victims of racial violence, while The National Memorial for Peace and Justice serves as a startling and stirring memorial for the over-4,000 recorded lynching victims in US history.
Prior to opening day, Stevenson appeared on 60 Minutes in a segment hosted by Oprah Winfrey where he discussed the path to the museum and memorial, and his hope that America will take steps towards a more just future by recognizing and confronting its past.
The opening was widely covered in the media, garnering features in The New York Times, which said that “the country has never seen anything like it”, as well as The Washington Post and The New Yorker. The event also marked a historic moment for the local press in Montgomery, which used the memorial’s opening as a chance to reexamine their past coverage of lynching and racial justice and issue a statement of apology and begin a thorough examination of how the Montgomery Advertiser had covered victims of lynching in the past. This is well in keeping with Stevenson’s mission for the museum. Telling The New Yorker “It’s so much easier to not be burdened by the history of slavery if you don’t see anything that’s burdensome or disruptive,” Stevenson’s aim is to help guide the country towards a more equitable future by taking an honest look at the past. As Stevenson himself said on 60 Minutes; “Right now, when we talk about our history, we’re not telling the truth.”
Bryan Stevenson has long been on the front lines of the fight for legal and racial justice. As a visionary attorney and the founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Stevenson’s work on behalf of the marginalized, incarcerated, and impoverished—which he chronicled in Just Mercy—garnered considerable acclaim and a prestigious MacArthur Foundation Grant for the Equal Justice Initiative. He was recently asked by Starbucks to advise on curriculum for its nationwide day of racial bias education. A popular speaker for audiences ranging from universities to non-profit organizations to corporations, Stevenson has inspired countless individuals with his compassion, tireless work, and powerful message that we are all are so much more than the worst thing we’ve done.