On the first weekend of December, nine senior American studies majors visited the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.
The Legacy Museum depicts American racism from slavery to the present-day mass incarceration of people of color. American studies major Maria Brescia-Weiler ’19 said the mission of the museum extends beyond just history and shows that “the legacy of slavery and institutionalized racism is such a persistent part of the American economy and polical system.”
“I think there’s a lot to be said — and we talked a lot about this — about being in the place where things happened and … being forced to confront intense visual representations of such a major aspect of American history,” Bresica-Weiler said.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice uses sculpture and writing to honor the victims of racial violence.The site focuses on lynchings and where they have occurred nationwide.
The students are currently compiling a scrapbook to document and reflect on the experience. The finished book will be housed in the Kenyon Archives. “It will be in the archives hopefully for a long time, so if people want to come back and look at it and see how we made this happen and what it meant to us,” Brescia-Weiler said.
Assistant Professor of American Studies and History Francis Gourrier ’08 and his “Race, Ed. & Student Rebellion” (AMST 391) class visited the museum last spring, but this trip was the first led entirely by students.
The students held a Q&A session on Wednesday night. They discussed the museum and memorial’s impact on them personally and in relation to their studies. They hope that a fall trip will become a tradition in the American studies department.
Cameron Messinides ’19, co-editor-in-chief of the Collegian, is an American studies major and went on the trip to Montgomery.