Richard Ansett

The Equal Justice Initiative Community Remembrance Project is a public acknowledgment of the hidden legacy of lynching in America. It is a tool of healing, recognising that all communities suffer from trauma and damage from their differing relationships to a systematic violence intended to dehumanise and oppress. This initiative clearly recognises the legacy of victim carried forward onto the black community but further recognises a residual perpetrator and bystander guilt that obstructs any future progress to a contemporary generational reconciliation. In this spirit, black and white communities are being encouraged to address this previously unspoken history through the collection of soil in special named jars from the 1000’s sites of the murders for a planned memorial museum in Montgomery, Alabama in 2018.

The typology of these 6 soil samples taken at the the EJI offices in Montgomery, Alabama represent just a few of the many jars collected in preparation for installation in the National Memorial for Peace and Justice . The names of the victims with dates and locations as captions are embedded in the work. The variations of texture and color reflect the extent of the terror statistically and geographically, as well as metaphorically representing the complexity and uniqueness of every life diminished by stereotype.

The soil collection represents a form of literal, political and emotional reclamation. What was valueless is imbued with new powerful meaning. ‘Blood and Soil’ echoed as a divisive right-wing chant denying many an equal stake in the relationship to place and identity has been re-appropriated as a demand for the basic and equal right for all.

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