BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Equal Justice Initiative opened the new Legacy Museum on Friday after a year and a half of construction. The 40,000 square foot museum is the EJI’s third major institution that addresses American History and Racial Injustice.
EJI Executive Director Bryan Stevenson told us in an one-on-one interview that there aren’t many places in America, quite like this new museum, that tells a complete history of the American story. “I don’t think we’ve done a very good job in our educational institutions educating people about the legacy of slavery, about the impact of that era on our whole history.”
The Legacy Museum Enslavement to Mass Incarceration is the latest installment for EJI. Stevenson says the museum takes the visitor on an emotional journey beginning with the slave trade making the transatlantic voyage. “We do have this dramatic presentation of the Atlanta ocean, 12 million Africans were kidnapped and trafficked across that ocean. Two million died during the middle passage.” said Stevenson.
The museum provides first-hand accounts using holograms, videos and exhibits to tell the story of Blacks facing lynchings, Jim Crow laws and incarceration. Stevenson adds, “In this contemporary era you pick up and phone and you hear from people who have been wrongly convicted, unfairly condemed, children prosecuted as adults, unfairly sentenced you begin to appreciate why there’s such urgency in confronting racial bias in our society today.”
The museum is erected on the site of a former cotton warehouse, where enslaved Blacks labored. It was important to Stevenson to build it at 400 N. Court Ave. “People say where didn’t you put your memorial in D.C. why didn’t is because this stuff happened here, Montgomery was one of the most active slave-trading spaces in America from 1850 until the end of the civil war. The street that we are sitting on North Court Street was the main trafficking portal for enslaved people.”
The museum is free for the first week. For more information visit them online.