Three spaces. One powerful experience - Equal Justice Initiative Announces New Freedom Monument Sculpture Park
The Legacy Sites invite visitors to reckon with America’s history of racial injustice in places where that history was lived. Situated on lands occupied by Indigenous people for centuries, in a region that once held the largest population of enslaved Black people and would later become the heart of the Civil Rights movement, the Legacy Sites offer visitors a powerful opportunity to engage with history and begin an era of truth telling.
Situated on the banks of the Alabama River, where tens of thousands of enslaved Black people were trafficked by boat and rail, the Freedom Monument Sculpture Park creates an immersive experience in a historically significant physical space where visitors can deepen their knowledge and understanding of history, the power of art, and the importance of justice.
Opening early 2024, the NEW 17-acre Freedom Monument Sculpture Park will bring together history, narrative, large-scale sculptures, contemporary art commissions from many of the greatest living artists, a new National Monument to Freedom honouring enslaved people who were emancipated after the Civil War, and many historic artifacts that together create an immersive, multifaceted examination of America’s history with a focus on slavery and its legacy.
The Sculpture Park will join EJI’s award-winning Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice to form the Legacy Sites. The Sculpture Park fuses the power of art with history, animates the humanity and struggle of enslaved Black Americans and sheds light on the nation’s history. Designed to be experienced as one journey, visitors are encouraged to visit all three Legacy Sites.
The Freedom Monument Sculpture park will feature newly commissioned works by artists including Alison Saar and Kwame Akoto-Bamfo, alongside major sculptures from Wangechi Mutu, Rose B. Simpson, Theaster Gates, and Kehinde Wiley.
The National Monument to Freedom will be the highlight of the experience. Standing 43 feet tall and over 150 feet long, the Monument will honour all four-million enslaved Black people who were emancipated at the end of the Civil War by memorialising more than 120,000 unique surnames documented at the time.
The Monument will celebrate the courageous survivors of this horrific era by recognising the families they created and millions of their descendants, many of whom still carry the names chosen by their formerly enslaved fore parents.
The plaza surrounding the National Monument will feature writings from Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and James Weldon Johnson. Visitors will be able to honour formerly enslaved people by placing flowers in a stream that flows next to the Monument.
Space for reflection, remembrance and contemplation will mark the conclusion of the journey through Freedom Monument Sculpture Park.
“In order to deepen our collective understanding of racial injustice and its impact on contemporary issues, our country must reckon with the painful history and legacy of slavery,” said EJI Director Bryan Stevenson. “Historical examination and memorialisation are critical to help move us forward and build healthier communities, and we’re honored to work with some of the greatest contemporary artists to provide a cultural space for all visitors to engage with this vital part of history.”
“Slavery touched almost every corner of the world—from the Americas to Africa and Europe—and we invite everyone to visit Freedom Monument Sculpture Park for a profound experience that will illuminate challenging aspects of our past, while inspiring a more hopeful future shaped by truth and justice.”
More details about the opening of Freedom Monument Sculpture Park will be announced in the coming months.
The Legacy Museum offers a powerful, immersive journey through America’s history of racial injustice. On the site of a cotton warehouse where enslaved Black people were forced to labour in bondage, the Legacy Museum tells the story of slavery in America and its legacy through interactive media, first-person narratives, world-class art and data-rich exhibits.
Travel through a comprehensive history of the destructive violence that shaped the nation, from the slave trade, to the era of Jim Crow and racial terror lynchings, to the current mass incarceration crisis, and find inspiration in our soaring Reflection Space and world-class art gallery.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is a sacred space for truth telling and reflection about racial terrorism and its legacy. On a hilltop overlooking Montgomery is the nation’s first comprehensive memorial dedicated to the legacy of Black Americans who were enslaved, terrorised by lynching, humiliated by racial segregation, and presumed guilty and dangerous.
More than 4,400 Black people killed in racial terror lynchings between 1877 and 1950 are remembered here. Their names are engraved on more than 800 corten steel monuments, one for each county where a racial terror lynching took place, that form the main structure of the memorial at the heart of this six-acre memorial.
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