United States

National Memorial for Peace and Justice

Set on a knoll in the Five Points neighborhood, this six-acre memorial is the first to commemorate more than 4,400 African American victims of lynchings in the United States from 1877 to 1950. Completed in 2018, the collaborative design was by the Equal Justice Initiative and MASS Design Group.

The grounds, defined by wooden picket fencing and concrete retaining walls, are accessed by a western plaza. Linear paved paths trace the site’s northern and western edges and are marked by figurative sculptures by Kwame Akoto-Bamfo, Hank Willis Thomas, and Dana King. The paths border a sloped lawn that includes an L-shaped bosque of flowering trees. Bifurcating paths frame geometric lawns and ascend the hillock, topped by an open-air memorial structure.

The temple-like structure includes over 800 suspended rectangular, weathered steel columns, each etched with the name of a county where a lynching occurred and victims’ names (known and anonymous). The memorial is navigated by a gradually descending, ramped walkway. As visitors proceed through the memorial, the columns, initially viewed at eye-level, rise overhead. The structure frames a central courtyard intended to evoke historic lynching sites such as town squares and courthouse lawns. The courtyard affords framed views of the Alabama River where enslaved African Americans were transported and sold; and of the Alabama State Capitol that witnessed the birth of the Confederacy in 1861 and the “How Long, Not Long” speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King during the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March.

From the memorial, linear paths extend south leading to the Ida B. Wells Memorial Grove (a group of cylindrical sculptures shaded by a pinetum) and an angled walkway. The walkway contains duplicates of the memorial’s steel columns, placed flat on the ground plane. Each intended to be requested by their corresponding county and relocated in their community.

Location and Nearby Landscapes

Nearby Landscapes