Juneteenth, monument dedicated in Alabama to those who endured slavery

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Thousands of family names adorn the imposing monument, representing more than 4 million slaves freed after the Civil War.

The Equal Justice Initiative, a criminal justice reform nonprofit, invoked Juneteenth holidays – the day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States – dedicated its National Monument to Liberty on Wednesday.

The monument, which honors people who endured and survived slavery, is the centerpiece of the new Liberty Monument Sculpture Park in Montgomery, Alabama, where artwork and historical artifacts tell the story of enslaved people in the United States.

During the dedication ceremony, Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, shared how enslaved people endured unspeakable horrors, but also left a legacy of perseverance and strength.

“The slaves of this country did something remarkable that we must recognize, that we must acknowledge, and that we must celebrate. The slaves resisted. Slaves were resilient. Slaves found ways to make their way,” Stevenson said.

June 16 is a day to confront the brutality of slavery and its consequences, but he added that it is also a day to celebrate the dignity and strength of people who managed to love and survive despite what they faced. they were confronted.

“They never stopped believing in it. They never stopped yearning for freedom. This morning, as we leave here this morning of June 16, I hope we remain hopeful,” Stevenson said.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day slaves in Galveston, Texas found out they were free after the Civil War. The news came two months after the end of the Civil War and about two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Stretching four stories skyward, the National Freedom Monument bears 122,000 surnames that former slaves chose for themselves, as shown in the 1870 census, after being emancipated at the end of the war civil. These last names represent the more than 4 million slaves who were freed after emancipation.

The Equal Justice Initiative created the park to honestly tell the history of slaves. The sculpture park is the third site created by the organization. The first two sites – the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a memorial to those killed in racial terror killings; And The Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration — opened in 2018.

Dr. Michele R. Williams and her mother, Barbara Y. Williams, scanned the rows of names Wednesday morning, looking for their last name, Murdough.

“There is a story tied to each name and the families they represent,” Michele Williams said. Their ancestor, a man named Moses, is believed to have lived in one of two slave cabins that were removed from an Alabama plantation for display in the sculpture park.

“It was just heartbreaking, but also very emotional,” Michele Williams said of visiting the cabin.

Leave a Comment