Thousands Come to Montgomery for Memorial and Museum Opening


Taylor Hill @taylorehill

From across the country and around the world, thousands of people came to Montgomery, Alabama, to celebrate the opening of the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

The museum and memorial opened on Thursday and already have hosted thousands of visitors, who emerged determined to bring friends, neighbors, and family members to Montgomery to share the unique and deeply moving experience.

All of the opening week events sold out, and the enthusiasm for the Justice Summit, Opening Ceremony, and Concert for Peace and Justice filled the streets of downtown Montgomery. At the Justice Summit at the Montgomery Performing Arts Center, Michelle Alexander, Sherrilyn Ifill, and Jelani Cobb kicked off a series of profound and inspiring talks, followed by Rev. Dr. William Barber and Chrystal Rucker; Gloria Steinem and Marian Wright Edelman with Michel Martin; and Ava DuVernay, Anna Deavere Smith, and Elizabeth Alexander.

Attendees again packed the theater and overflow space starting early Friday morning to hear about education and implicit bias from Dr. Howard Stevenson, Dr. Walter Gilliam, and Dr. Margaret Beale Spencer, followed by a masterful presentation on environmental justice by Former Vice President Al Gore and EJI’s Catherine Flowers. EJI’s own Anthony Ray Hinton and legendary lawyer Steve Bright discussed criminal justice reform with author Piper Kerman, and brilliant writer Jacqueline Woodson hosted a energetic and emotional talk with Black Lives Matter activist Brittany Packnett, Senator Cory Booker, and artist-activist Common.

Thursday night’s Opening Ceremony at the Montgomery Convention Center featured performances from Sweet Honey in the Rock, Bebe Winans, Chrystal Rucker, Brandie Sutton, Ailey II, and the phenomenal Patti LaBelle.

The grand finale of the opening week events was the Concert for Peace and Justice at the Riverwalk Amphitheater, featuring The Roots, Dave Matthews, Usher, Common, Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes, Jon Batiste, Kirk Franklin, Tasha Cobbs, Robert Glasper, Valerie June, Greg Phillinganes, and the Alabama State University Choir. The sold-out crowd was treated to a special performance by the incomparable Stevie Wonder, who performed with the Roots on “Higher Ground” and “Visions” and closed with a thrilling rendition of “Another Star” that brought all of the night’s performers onstage together.

EJI is thrilled that so many people heeded the call to come to Montgomery to experience and support the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Together with rave reviews from local, national, and global media, we hope that the shared testimonies of those who visit these sites will encourage even more people to visit. Tickets to the museum and memorial are available here.

The Roots

Photos by Taylor Hill

Thousands came from around the world to celebrate the opening of the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.