The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America is an exhibit developed in response to a community need. It seeks to spark an honest conversation about the legacy of racial injustice in America today. After slavery was formally abolished in 1865, racial terror lynching emerged in the late 19th century and continued until the middle of the 20th century as a vicious tool of racial control to reestablish white supremacy and suppress black civil rights. The aftereffects are still with us today, from mass incarceration to disproportionate sentencing of people of color. Healing the deep wounds of our present means facing the truths of our past.
MOSH took initiative on this exhibit as part of its leadership role in the Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project (JCRP). The JCRP is organized in Duval County by 904WARD, a civil society group supported by dozens of individuals and organizations. JCRP is supported by representatives from Baptist Health, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Edward Waters College, the University of North Florida, Yellow House and the Jacksonville Historical Society. The JCRP is the local manifestation of a national Community Remembrance Project organized by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a nonprofit organization committed to changing the narrative about race in America. The Community Remembrance Project’s goal is to foster better understanding of the nation’s legacy of racial violence and to commemorate the individual victims.
For many visitors, this is a deeply personal subject; something that has shaped their family for generations, or caused them to re-evaluate their past in a new light.
The Legacy of Lynching, which ends its extended run on March 1,2020, has been a powerful and moving example of how history can impact our lives. The exhibit is composed of three parts, the national story provided by EJI’s groundbreaking research, powerful artwork created by local artist Marsha Hatcher, and Duval’s story researched and written by the JCRP. Together, these pieces weave a narrative about the history of racial injustice. Many in the community were moved and emotional after viewing the exhibit. Almost three quarters of visitors were inspired to start talking about racial intolerance with other people in their lives.
One of the reasons that knowing our history is so important is that it remains relevant to our everyday lives. The past has shaped our present and we must apply that knowledge to our understanding of current events to shape our future. The Legacy of Lynching has inspired the community to learn more about racial inequality today, to help others who are bullied because of racism, to connect with organizations that champion racial justice, and to teach their own children about our history.
Such powerful history is too important to stay confined to one building; extra copies of the placards featuring local information have been created and are traveling the county as An Era of Racial Terror: Jacksonville’s Legacy of Lynching. Now and into the future, MOSH will be committed to sharing this history with our community. To learn more about where you can find this exhibit in the community, visit the Outreach Exhibits page of MOSH’s website, https://themosh.org/explore/outreach-exhibits/.