Last week a man in Kentucky tried to get inside an African American church, where he claimed he wanted to slaughter Black people attending services. Blocked in his effort to get inside the church, he went to a nearby grocery store and killed two unarmed Black shoppers who were targeted because they were Black. Three days later, a man who had publicly espoused white supremacist views and anti-Jewish hate went inside a Pittsburgh synagogue and killed 11 Jewish people attending services. Several others were injured. These tragic shootings came at the same time that a vocal supporter of President Trump targeted progressive political leaders, activists, and critics of the current administration by sending pipe bombs through the mail.
America’s history of racial bigotry and bias against racial, religious, and ethnic minorities has cast a dangerous shadow over our nation. We are burdened with a legacy of violent opposition to people who are “othered” because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion. We have a history of hate that our elected leaders have frequently ignored, sometimes encouraged, and never adequately addressed.
The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to confronting our nation’s history of violence, bigotry, racism, religious intolerance, and hatred of people who are perceived to be different. Our new Legacy Museum and National Memorial honor many people who have been victimized by this bigotry and challenge our nation to be bolder, more honest, and more dedicated to addressing injustice and bias. As last week’s events make clear, the need for this work is as critical and urgent as ever.
EJI stands in solidarity with millions of others who condemn the violence on display in America last week. We are committed to continuing the struggle to overcome our history of racial injustice in search of true peace, the kind of peace that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described as not “merely the absence of tension” but “the presence of justice.”