Our van pulled up outside the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Civil Rights Memorial and a guard immediately hurried down to the street. We couldn’t just stop there to unload. When I later realized what was housed inside the adjacent building, I understood the need for security measures. What was shared inside was the far-reaching effects of hatred.
I promise that this is the last post I’ll write about the horrific sadness that abounds in these Montgomery institutions, but their history and progressive work is so important. I need to share it.
The Southern Poverty Law’s Civil Rights Memorial Center overwhelmed me with its stories. It was the only place I remember visiting in Montgomery where we had to go through security as we entered the building. And then we were free to explore and interact with the displays inside. I took a million pictures. I’ll let a few of the pictures speak for themselves.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is committed to fighting hate, teaching tolerance, and seeking justice. They have a hate map that tracks hate crime groups around the U.S. Though I focused on a few of the victims of hate crimes toward blacks, many other groups are targeted. You can click the hate map by state. I was appalled that 35 hate groups exist in my home state of Ohio. You can check the map here: https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map
The Civil Rights Memorial building ends in a large, dark room with an illuminated Wall of Tolerance. Visitors are invited to pledge to take a stand against hate and work for justice and tolerance in their daily lives.
You can add your name so easily among the thousands that continuously scroll across the Wall of Tolerance. Those names greatly outnumber the names of victims. So there is hope.
Thank you for sharing this tragic but necessary reminder Juliann. Call me cynical, but until we can guarantee governments will stop manipulating prejudices – historically ingrained by vested interests of the times – and stop raising threatening bogeys to divert attention from their failures, hate will continue to rear its ugly head.
You are absolutely right, Madhu.
I also think it’s so important to highlight this history in an effort to educate and bring people together to rally for a better tomorrow. I think hate will always exist in this world but history also shows that people’s values and perspectives are capable of being changed.
Very true. This was such a powerful message at the Civil Rights Memorial building. So many stories were shared inside.
The museum sounds like an incredibly powerful experience. Thank you so much for sharing some of its stories.
I wish I could have shared them all!
That hate map makes the blood run cold. I thought the Klan (for example) were now a marginalised bunch of nut jobs. It’s frightening to see the extent of embedded hate groups in the US. I can’t begin to think about the reasons, or what can be done.
Certainly in the UK there are fringe far-right groups who have gained some traction with the recent refugee crisis. They do a bit of shouting at weekends (especially when the weather’s nice) but generally are just nuisances.
The Klan is still all-too-present. I hadn’t realized the extent of all the other groups, too. I grew up in an area that was heavy with Klan members. When I was 7 years old, I saw them rally in a schoolyard, wearing their white hooded robes and burning something in effigy. It frightened me so much to realize that they were grown men and that we couldn’t see them. The image has stayed with me my whole life.