The legacy of lynching

From Oprah Winfrey’s 60 Minutes feature, “Inside the Memorial to Victims of Lynching,”  about Bryan Stevenson’s memorial and museum in Montgomery, Alabama. Here she is discussing the photos that show white people “in their Sunday best” surrounding the hanging bodies of black people.

Oprah Winfrey: I think about who are those people–

Bryan Stevenson: Yes.

Oprah Winfrey: –that are smiling into the camera?

Bryan Stevenson: And I think it’s done real psychic damage not just to black people, but to white people, too. Because you can’t bring your child to the public square and have your child watch someone be burned to death, be tortured, to have their fingers cut off, to be castrated, to be taunted, to be menaced, to be hanged like that and not expect it to have some consequence, some legacy. And the legacy that I think it’s created is this indifference to how we treat people who look different than us. And I think that’s tragic. I don’t even think that white people in our country are free. I think we’re all burdened by this history of racial inequality.

Oprah Winfrey: What about everyone who says, and there are black and white people say it, enough already, of all that. That happened. That’s the past. Let’s move forward.

Bryan Stevenson: I don’t think we get to pretend that this stuff didn’t happen. I don’t think you can just play it off. This is like a disease. You have to treat it.

I’ve put this exchange here so I can easily find it again. I have no doubt I will be thinking of it in connection with local matters sometime.

About Uncomely and Broken

I am a classicist in Sewanee, Tennessee.
This entry was posted in Race, Slavery, Statues & Monuments, The South, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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