For Thanksgiving this year (2018) I invited myself to go on a trip to Montgomery, AL, with my daughter, Beth Jackson Hodges, and my son-in-law, Howie Hodges. Howie wanted to have Thanksgiving with his Morehouse College friend, Judge Greg Griffin; and I wanted to see the Montgomery lynching museum. I believe the correct name is The National Memorial for Peace and Justice; in addition to the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarnation. These amazing exhibitions were opened in April, 2018. I asked to tag along. It was a great trip. My adult children and I had a fantastic time while driving to Alabama remembering old times when they were dating at our home. We listened to old-school music that included BRICK, the SOS Band, and CAMEO and a few other recordings of this genera of music. We had a great dinner with the Griffin family and headed to see the sights of Montgomery the day after turkey day. Judge Griffin was a fantastic tour guide who showed off his city with an impressive tour of the courthouse and much more. We visited his law chamber and I had a minute to play judge-for-a-day.
Greg and Howie were classmates at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and they had lots of stories to tell about each other at the dinner table. Griffin is the Democratic Place 1 judge on the 15th Circuit in Alabama. He was appointed to the court by Gov. Robert Bentley (R) on December 2, 2014, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Tracy S. McCooey. Griffin assumed office on December 8, 2014. He won election to a full six-year term in the general election on November 8, 2016.
But the wonder of the journey was the visit to see the museum. Now, I know my Black history and I am most interested in the Black heritage and the legacy we pass on to our future generations; but reading the material in the museum about the people and the various situations that occurred during our journey from slavery to where we are now was enough to bring tears. The manner in which the stories were told was remarkable. The challenge I have before me is to get my grandchildren to visit this museum and be educated about this history of our people.
The six-acre site includes sculpture, art, and literature, and the monuments depict the names of more than 1,877 Black men and women in counties where racial lynching’s took place. More than 800 monument markers show the names of the counties and those who were lynched. It took us about three hours to make it through the exhibition—and we could have spent more time reflecting.
I am well-schooled about the lynching/murders that happened at the Moore’s Ford Bridge. I looked around and found the monuments that showed the names of the Walton County, Georgia, couples who were lynched – the Dorseys and the Malcoms. I have spent a little more than five years working with Tyrone Brooks (former member of the Georgia House of Representatives), who knows everything there is to know about the lynching’s at the Moore’s Ford Bridge, Monroe GA, Walton County. Every year, Brooks spear-heads a re-enactment of the Moore’s Ford Lynching and there is a major production held in Monroe, GA at the site of the bridge.
I am most impressed with this quote that one will see when you first approach the museum — “We will remember . . . For the hanged and beaten. For the shot, drowned, and burned. For the tortured, tormented, and terrorized. For those abandoned by the rule of law. With hope because hopelessness is the enemy of justice. With courage because peace requires bravery. With persistence because justice is a constant struggle. With faith because we shall over overcome.”1 What a message!!
I do plan to return to this site again and I will try to encourage others to take this jaunt. Remembering what my good friend, Jesse Jackson says, “Keep Hope Alive.”
See the story “Pushing America to face its Racist Past” in the AJC, December 16, 2018, Section E-Living & Arts, cover story.
1We will remember. Equal Justice Initiative. 2018
Photos attached to this blog about the Moore’s Ford Bridge and a few of the monuments we saw at the museum.