Students Memorialize Their State’s Past, Commit to Creating a Better Future

Last summer, a group of Altamont School seniors and two faculty members travelled from Birmingham to Montgomery to join in the Community Remembrance Project. Sponsored by the Equal Justice Initiative, the Remembrance Project represents indigent defendants and prisoners denied fair and just treatment in the legal system.

Participants from across the state collected soil from lynching sites throughout Alabama and created a memorial that acknowledges the victims of racial injustice. The goal was to bring community members closer to the legacy of lynching and help build a lasting and more visible memory of this chapter in our country’s history.

“It was a reality check, knowing that less than fifty years ago people who looked like me were being terrorized all over the country,” says senior Imani Richardson. “It was also almost spiritual. I’m honored to be part of a community that’s so diverse, where our teachers felt a moral responsibility to share this experience, and my peers were just as excited to engage in something so much larger than any individual. It was something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

The soil will be part of an exhibit in Montgomery to reflect the history of lynching and express this generation’s resolve to confront the continuing challenges that racial inequality creates.

“Part of our mission is to graduate compassionate student leaders invested in improving the fabric of society,” says faculty member Andrew Nelson, who was on the trip. “Our students helped write a history of their home state that bears witness to the racial terror of Alabama’s past — a reminder of the need for racial tolerance and understanding in the present.”

Does your school do something similar?

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