The Alabama Tourism Department has honored EJI's Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice with the 2019 Attraction of the Year award.
EJI opened the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, located on the site of a former warehouse where black people were enslaved in Montgomery, and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, on a six-acre site overlooking downtown Montgomery, in April 2018.
In a little more than a year, the two sites have drawn more than 600,000 visitors from across the country and around the world, including church groups, students, teachers, descendants and communities, executives and board members from top companies and nonprofits, and lawmakers.
The museum and memorial have received widespread acclaim in local, national, and global media, and visitors have shared powerful reflections about their experiences at the sites.
"I've been deeply moved, and deeply touched by what I witnessed here. . . We cannot repeat this part of our history." — U.S. Rep. John Lewis
"There is nothing like it in the country. Which is the point." — New York Times
"[O]ne of the most powerful and effective new memorials in a generation." — Washington Post
The Legacy Museum employs unique technology to dramatize the enslavement of African Americans and the evolution of racial terror lynchings, legalized racial segregation, and racial hierarchy in America. Relying on rarely seen first-person accounts of the domestic slave trade, EJI’s critically acclaimed research materials, videography, exhibits on lynching, and recently composed content on segregation, this museum explores the history of racial inequality and its relationship to a range of contemporary issues from mass incarceration to police violence.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.
EJI Director Bryan Stevenson recently told the New York Times that EJI developed the sites out of necessity. "I became focused on cultural spaces for people to deal honestly with the past. We've done a terrible job in America of talking honestly about slavery and segregation," he said. "I knew it was going to be significant because it hadn't happened in America and it needed to be done. I just wasn't sure how much interest there would be."
The tremendous amount of interest in the sites has boosted the local economy and statewide tourism figures. And it's not only tourists who are engaging with the sites and grappling with the legacy of our nation's history of racial injustice. "We're confronting our past. We're owning the issues that Bryan is talking about," Montgomery mayor Todd Strange told the Times. "The Memorial for Peace and Justice is amazing. It's powerful."