The National Memorial for Peace and Justice commemorates the many victims of racist murders in the South
In her speech at the Golden Globes in January, Oprah Winfrey spoke eloquently about Recy Taylor, an African-American woman from Alabama who was kidnapped and raped by white men. Taylor’s pursuit of justice alongside NAACP investigator Rosa Parks helped pave the way for the Civil Rights Movement. On this week’s 60 Minutes, Winfrey will explore another form of racist hate crime from the pre-Civil Rights era by taking CBS cameras inside the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a new museum dedicated to the African-American victims of lynching located in the heart of the Civil Rights Movement in Montgomery, Alabama.
As seen in the preview video above, Winfrey walks through the museum alongside Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson. They explore one area in which commemorative headstones for victims of lynching have been hung from the ceiling in the way that many of the victims were hung from trees (imagery that was also once described poetically by Billie Holiday: “Southern trees bear strange fruit”). “This is something,” says Winfrey.
“We wanted people to have a sense of the scale of what this violence, this terrorism, was,” Stevenson said.
Winfrey notes that the museum documents more than 4,000 lynching victims, but that there are thousands more whose memories have been lost to time. She and Stevenson agree that “we will never really know how many.” Winfrey also notes that “each name has its own story.” In this preview, Stevenson focuses on one victim in particular: Reverend T.A. Allen, a minister who tried to teach black sharecroppers about their post-Civil War rights. In return, he was lynched by white landowners.
“A lot of these folks were lynched because they showed too much dignity, they showed too much humanity,” Stevenson said. “He just wanted to be respected as a human being, and it got him hanged.”
Winfrey’s full report on the National Memorial for Peace and Justice will be broadcast on 60 Minutes on April 8 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.