The Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Ala. is built on the site of a former slave warehouse, and is an educational, interactive museum about the slave trade, the Jim Crow laws, racial terrorism, and the U.S. prison system.
The museum experience features firsthand accounts from enslaved people by way of hologram, and visitor's are then guided into a room stacked with facts from our past. The left wall shows the timeline of chattel slavery, emancipation, the civil rights era, and mass incarceration. A startling statistic that stuck with me is that one in every three African American boys will spend time in jail. How can we live in a just world when people are sentenced to jail the moment we see their color? How can we change it? This particular thought circled in my head throughout the day, as I’m sure it did with all of the participants of the trip.
One of the best parts about the trip was that the students from different area schools could all interact. I had a great conversation with two GPS girls, whom I had never met, I got to talk to an exchange student from Saudi Arabia about his view on America’s past, and I reflected with some Howard students on a video we watched together. This gave everyone the chance to see different outlooks and ideas about the atrocities in the museum, and how we -- as teenagers in Chattanooga -- can better it.
The Lynching Memorial is just something you have to see. It is row after row after row of lynchings from each county in America. Carved in a big block of stone are the names we know of lynchings that occurred hanging by a pole of metal in the air. On the sides of the wall are some “explanations” for why a person was hanged. One “reason” was because a man reported white men attacked him to the police, another was for a man who was found innocent after being accused of robbery. All ridiculous excuses for the real reason behind the murder was just plain hatred and racism. When asked about the trip, junior Starr Hinton responded, “There was a feeling of remorse learning of the valuable lives viciously taken by lynching, but visiting the memorial was surreal feeling that everyone should experience.“
This trip was a fantastic experience that I recommend all Baylor students go on. They are planning on going once a semester, and while it is only a day, it can change your whole perspective on the south and especially Chattanooga.