This weekend, the Equal Justice Initiative will dedicate a new historical marker near Brighton City Hall that documents the 1908 lynching of William Miller. Mr. Miller was an African American coal miner who was seeking better wages for black workers and was murdered by a white mob. The marker in Brighton will be dedicated on Sunday, December 13. The dedication will be followed by a reception and award ceremony with the high school winners of the 2015 Racial Justice Essay Contest.
The marker is being erected in partnership with the City of Brighton, which approved the marker earlier this year after the February release of EJI’s report, Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror. The report documents EJI’s multi-year investigation into lynching in twelve Southern states during the period between Reconstruction and World War II. EJI researchers documented more than 4000 lynchings including 363 lynchings in Alabama. The Brighton marker is the first in an effort to mark lynching sites throughout the South.
No prominent public memorial or monument commemorates the thousands of African Americans who were lynched in America. Research on mass violence, trauma, and transitional justice underscores the urgent need to engage in public conversations about racial history that begin a process of truth and reconciliation in this country.
“We cannot heal the deep wounds inflicted during the era of racial terrorism until we tell the truth about it,” said EJI Director Bryan Stevenson. “The geographic, political, economic, and social consequences of decades of terror lynchings can still be seen in many communities today and the damage created by lynching needs to be confronted and discussed. Only then can we meaningfully address the contemporary problems that are lynching’s legacy.”