Convener’s Corner

Taifa pensive

June 19, 2017

Convener’s Corner, Nkechi Taifa

From Juneteenth to Lynchings to Mass Incarceration

Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of chattel slavery in the United States. It was on June 19, 1865 that Texas became the last jurisdiction to hear the news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were free. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Despite joyous celebrations, there was no where to go, staunch resistance by whites, and exclusion from all aspects of civil society and the political process. Tumultuous times followed, continuing the legacy of enslavement through the decades, manifesting in mass murders and mass incarceration.

Over four thousand African Americans were lynched in the United States between 1877 and 1950. We rarely talk about these acts of racial terror, but they profoundly shaped our country.

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), led by public interest lawyer Bryan Stevenson, is working to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment of people of color. These issues are part of the present-day legacy of America’s past lynching violence. And in order to address them now, we all have to speak up about this history.

EJI has partnered with Google to create a digital experience, Lynching in America, packed with documentaries, audio stories and interactive data visualizations that make this history come alive and help to show us a way forward.

The responsibility is on all of us to speak the truth, and we know you will be a powerful catalyst to make sure every American knows about the legacy of lynching. The platform launched in June at www.LynchinginAmerica.EJI.org. Please help in sharing it.

To make it as simple as possible, below are suggested share copy and graphics from EJI.

We cannot heal the deep wounds inflicted during the era of racial terrorism until we tell the truth about it.

— Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative

THREE VIDEOS TO SHARE during this season of Juneteenth:

#1 Bryan Stevenson Video

Bryan explains the importance of confronting our history of racial injustice, its relevance in the modern world, and what can be accomplished by speaking the truth.

Talking points for Facebook/Instagram

Slavery didn’t end in 1865. It evolved. We are haunted by our history of racial injustice.

Over 4,000 African Americans were lynched in 20 states from 1877 to 1950. This legacy of lynching has evolved into mass incarceration and capital punishment.

Based on current trends, 1 in 3 black boys born in America today will be imprisoned at some point in their life.

Before we can effect change today, we need to speak the truth about our past. Take the first step at lynchinginamerica.eji.org 

Suggested copy options for Twitter

I support Bryan Stevenson and @eji_org in their mission to fight racial injustice. lynchinginamerica.eji.org #SlaveryEvolved

The effects of lynching are still felt today. I support @eji_org as they work for a better future lynchinginamerica.eji.org#SlaveryEvolved

#2 “Diaspora” Video

The subjects of the films explain the many reasons African Americans were forced to flee the South in order to escape racial terrorism.

Suggested talking points for Facebook/Instagram

During the Great Migration, over 6 million African Americans fled the South for the North and West out of fear for their lives – not for economic opportunity alone.

This is one of the largest migrations of people in the history of the world. The demographics of America today, especially in cities, are a direct result of the Great Migration.

Understand your connection to the Great Migration at lynchinginamerica.eji.org

Suggested copy options for Twitter

During the Great Migration, 6 million African Americans fled the South in fear lynchinginamerica.eji.org @eji_org #SlaveryEvolved

One of the largest migrations in history happened in America. Revisit the Great Migration lynchinginamerica.eji.org @eji_org #SlaveryEvolved

#3 Anthony Ray Hinton Story

A story connecting our history of lynching to today’s problems of mass incarceration and the death penalty.

Suggested talking points Facebook/Instagram

Anthony Ray Hinton spent 30 years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative secured his freedom in 2015.

The states with the highest lynching rates are the states with the highest execution rates. Learn about America’s history of racial injustice, and how we are still affected by it, at  lynchinginamerica.eji.org

Learn about our shared past at lynchinginamerica.eji.org

Suggested copy options for Twitter

Anthony Ray Hinton spent 30 years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. Hear his story lynchinginamerica.eji.org @eji_org #SlaveryEvolved

The states with the highest lynching rates are the states with the highest execution rates lynchinginamerica.eji.org @eji_org #SlaveryEvolved

 

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Nkechi Taifa is the convener of the Justice Roundtable. An expert in the field of criminal justice, she is the Advocacy Director for Criminal Justice for the Open Society Foundations and Open Society Policy Center.

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