Photo Credit: The National Memorial for Peace and Justice| Facebook
City Of Alexandria, Virginia Planning A Pilgrimage To Montgomery To Honor Lynching Victims
In 2018, the Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a plan for steel pillar monuments honoring two lynching victims—Joseph McCoy and Benjamin Thompson— who were murdered in the city in the 1890s. Last year, the markers were finally erected.
Now, the city wants to go further.
It is planning a pilgrimage to Montgomery’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice to recognize its place in that history, and the public is invited, as the Washington Post reported. Alexandria plans for about 100 people, mostly residents, to travel to Montgomery for the pilgrimage in 2022.
Established by the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice is a national memorial that honors victims of lynching in the United States. Founded by Bryan Stevenson, the site was inspired by the examples of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Montgomery’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice features hundreds of six-foot steel pillars, one for each county in which the Equal Justice Initiative, the nonprofit behind the memorial, has confirmed any lynchings. The names of the victims in each county are engraved on the pillars.
The city is inviting the public on a trip to Montgomery to deliver its soil, as part of the city’s goal of claiming a pillar. The trip is tentatively scheduled for October 2022.
“This is a visible sign that our money is where our mouth is,” Gretchen Bulova, the director of the Office of Historic Alexandria told The Washington Post.
She is responsible for organizing the pilgrimage to Montgomery, and her office thinks 100 participants are about as many as it can manage. The city is working to secure discounts and partially subsidize the cost of travel and housing. Some participants may drive or fly to Montgomery, but Bulova told the Post that a long bus ride might foster some important conversations about racial justice.
She said that most of the people expressing interest are Alexandria residents — some recent arrivals to the city and others fifth, sixth- or even seventh-generation Alexandrians. Also, there are people of various racial backgrounds and faith organizations who are interested in truth and reconciliation.
The trip will include curated museum tours and a reception with guest speakers. Next to the memorial, visitors will see EJI’s newly expanded museum, which explores the connections between slavery, the Jim Crow era that followed emancipation and Reconstruction, and mass incarceration.