Museums usually pay homage to the past, but a newly opened memorial and museum in Montgomery, Alabama, also takes a critical look at race relations today. The memorial lists the names 4,400 of victims of lynchings and racial killings in 800 U.S. counties between 1877 and 1950. The separately housed Legacy Museum directly links slavery of the past to mass incarcerations of black people today.
Class discussion: Do you think America’s long history of slavery and oppression of African-Americans impacts racial equality today? Why or why not? Why are black men are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of white men? How does the wealth of black and white Americans compare? Is there anything wrong with museums and memorials that focus on ugly events in the past? What about war memorials or museums about the Holocaust?