Victor Garlington holds up a photo of the lynching of his great-uncle Richard Putt after a South Carolina honor guard lowered the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds for the last time on July 10, 2015, in Columbia, South Carolina. America cannot move forward, Curtis writes, when so many leaders and citizens are mired in competing visions of its tragic past. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)
It may be a museum that makes viewers want to look away, with its solemn memorial to the thousands of men, women and children murdered — lynched — in countless acts of domestic terrorism. But facing truth must come before reconciliation, before Americans can clearly see where the tribalism that continues to threaten unity can eventually and inevitably lead.
The Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice, opening this week in Montgomery, Alabama, is one step toward acknowledging the complicated truth of an America that too many still want to see as all glitter, an unvarnished march toward liberty and justice for all. Of course, the existence of the memorial does not mean those who most need to see it will be planning a trip any time soon.