Schoolteacher Elizabeth Lawrence was lynched in 1933 in Jefferson County, Alabama, after scolding white children who threw rocks at her; 17-year-old Henry Smith was brutally tortured and then burned alive in Paris, Texas, in 1893 — the suspicion that he killed a white girl being enough to form a posse and sentence him to death. No memorial stands at the places where they were murdered, and no major monument exists for the over 4,000 black individuals who were lynched between Civil War and World War II.
Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror was launched this week by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) with support from Google. The online interactive was developed from years of research and an in-depth report into how this violence is still visible in the United States, even if it is under-acknowledged. “We cannot heal the deep wounds inflicted during the era of racial terrorism until we tell the truth about it,” EJI Director Bryan Stevenson stated in the release. “The geographic, political, economic, and social consequences of decades of terror lynchings can still be seen in many communities today and the damage created by lynching needs to be confronted and discussed. Only then can we meaningfully address the contemporary problems that are lynching’s legacy.”
EJI is planning to open a national memorial to victims of lynching and the From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, in 2018, supported in part by grant money from Google, which has totaled $2 million since 2015. The online interactive acts as a portal to more dialogue and understanding ahead of those major projects, with audio stories, a film called Uprooted about a family’s return to the South a century after one of their relatives was lynched, and maps. One of these plots lynching data by county across 20 states. It is not limited to the South, with lynchings mapped in Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, and other states less associated with this racially motivated violence. Individual stories, such as those of Elizabeth Lawrence and Henry Smith, can be activated by clicking on their counties. A map of the Great Migration further visualizes how fleeing this terror sparked the relocation of millions of African Americans. For instance, the EJI stats show how Huntsville, Alabama’s black population went from 43.5% of the city in 1910 to 12.1% in 1970, while Chicago’s went from 2% in 1910 to 32.7% in 1970.
As the Lynching in America site states, lynchings were “public acts of racial terrorism, intended to instill fear in entire black communities,” and were often blindly allowed by local governments. At a moment when Confederate monuments are just now being removed from sites of prominence in American cities like New Orleans and St. Louis, it is important to recognize and publicly remember this past.
Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror is available online through the Equal Justice Initiative and Google.
Memories So Fair and Bright
Kimetha Vanderveen’s paintings are about the interaction of materiality and light, the bond between the palpable and ephemeral world in which we live.
Artists Contemplate Sovereignty in Santa Fe
The Santa Fe Art Institute’s 2024 International Thematic Residency focuses on what sovereignty means for artists from across the world.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
How Did Early Modern European Craftspeople Pass On Their Knowledge?
A new book about object making critically examines a written history of working with materials.
Dual Portrait of Old Master Rachel Ruysch Holds a Trove of Secrets
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just acquired the rare painting, which depicts the Dutch artist at work surrounded by her signature flora.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Did Van Gogh’s Disdain for the Eiffel Tower Inspire “Starry Night”?
Art historian James Hall argues that van Gogh replaced the Eiffel Tower with a towering cypress tree and its inaugural light shows with the night sky.
Greek Museum Welcomes Dogs For World Stray Animal Day
Furry friends and their pawrents can visit Athens’s National Museum of Contemporary Art for free this weekend.
The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation Presents The Feminine in Abstract Painting
Curated by Jennifer Samet and Andrea Belag, this group exhibition in NYC explores the feminine through aesthetics, as opposed to identity or gender.
Ai Weiwei Recreates Monet’s “Water Lilies” Using 650,000 LEGOS
It’s the artist’s largest LEGO artwork to date.
Did a Simpsons Episode Predict the Florida “David” Outrage?
The episode, which aired 30 years ago, made a dark prediction about conservative politics in 2023.
NYU Steinhardt Opens 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibitions
Taking place at 80WSE Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village, Part I is on view from late March through April while Part II opens in May.
Coasting the Topography of South Asian Futurisms
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Sadaf Padder presents an exhibition to offer insight into her curatorial process.
I’m a Florida Drag Queen and I’m Scared
I’m truly at a loss for what to do for work and what kind of life I can expect to live.