Black History Month, Lynching, Racial injustice, The Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum

“Your names were never lost, each name a holy word. The rocks cry out.”

BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2023

Sculpture of slaves by
Kwame Akoto-Bamfo

The Memorial for Peace and Justice
and the Legacy Museum
Montgomery, Alabama

The Memorial site is designed to contextualize this horrific past of racial terror in our counties history. It is part of our collective history and these events should be remembered, recognized and reconciled. Comprised of eight hundred and five Corten steel markers hung from the ceiling and etched with the names of the victims, one for each county where a lynching took place throughout the United States.


INVOCATION

The wind brings your names.
We will never dissever your names
nor your shadows beneath each branch and tree.

The truth comes in on the wind, is carried by water.
There is such a thing as the truth. Tell us
how you got over. Say, Soul I look back in wonder.

Your names were never lost,
each name a holy word.
The rocks cry out—

call out each name to sanctify this place.
Sounds in human voices, silver or soil,
a moan, a sorrow song,

a keen, a cackle, harmony,
a hymnal, handbook, chart,
a sacred text, a stomp, an exhortation.

Ancestors, you will find us still in cages,
despised and disciplined.
You will find us still mis-named.

Here you will find us despite.
You will not find us extinct.
You will find us here memoried and storied.

You will find us here mighty.
You will find us here divine.
You will find us where you left us, but not as you left us.

Here you endure and are luminous.
You are not lost to us.
The wind carries sorrows, sighs, and shouts.

The wind brings everything. Nothing is lost.
 
Elizabeth Alexander, “Invocation” 

This poem is posted at the exit of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.


Please give thanks for the Oakwood University Aeolians performing the inspiring hymn, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”