As an ardent proponent of criminal justice reform, it is a happy coincidence that my birth month coincides with the April 2018 opening of an historic museum in Montgomery, Alabama, The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration. The impetus for my advocacy grew out of the nearly 16-year incarceration of my son–now deceased—and its painful and lingering effects on him and my family.
The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), under founder and Executive Director Bryan Stevenson (winner of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Prize, the National Medal of Liberty, the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award, and countless other commendations), created the museum to highlight America’s long journey from slavery and segregation to mass incarceration and excessive punishment.
According to the EJI:
“This museum is designed to change the way we think about race in America. The United States has done very little to acknowledge the legacy of genocide of Native Americans, enslavement of black people, lynching, and racial segregation. As a result, racial disparities continue to burden people of color; the criminal justice system is infected with racial bias; and a presumption of dangerousness and guilt has led to mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and police violence against young people of color.”
The site of the museum is a former slave warehouse, “where tens of thousands of enslaved people were trafficked at the height of the domestic slave trade.” It will re-create of a former slave house, follow ten generations of enslaved people and their descendants, and feature interactive and virtual reality exhibits. Many artists, performers, musicians and filmmakers have contributed their creative talents to the museum.
Without a doubt, a visit to The Legacy museum is Number One on my newly-created Bucket List.