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Memorial needs to come home to Lincoln County

Ten. That’s the number of documented lynchings that took place in Lincoln County from 1877-1950, according to a report from the Equal Justice Initiative.

Across the country, the EJI found more than 4,075 racial terror lynchings of African-Americans during that same time. The EJI’s report makes the case that lynchings were a form of terrorism, used to enforce racial subordination. It’s hard to argue with that position.

The EJI, based in Alabama, this week opened a new memorial and museum that remember the nation’s bloodied history of racial violence.

The memorial, titled the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, is particularly striking. The memorial sits atop a hill overlooking Montgomery. Inside the open air facility, large rust-colored monuments hang, a visual reminder of how many of the victims died at the hands of their killers.

Inscribed on the monuments are the names of the victims and the places where the killings took place. Surrounding the memorial are identical monuments, waiting to be claimed and installed in the counties they represent, according to the memorial’s website.

“Over time, the national memorial will serve as a report on which parts of the country have confronted the truth of this terror and which have not,” according to the website.

Some have questioned the need for such a memorial. Organizers rightly have said that recognizing the truth of our nation’s history is essential to recovery and reconciliation.

“A history of racial injustice must be acknowledged, and mass atrocities and abuse must be recognized and remembered, before a society can recover from mass violence,” the website states.

Lincoln County has a memorial waiting to be picked up. On it will be the names of those who were killed here. It won’t be easy to confront a past that so many would like to move on from. But claiming and displaying the monument will show Lincoln Countians that we are ready to embrace reconciliation and peace.

More than 30 counties have picked up their monuments. We hope Lincoln County will as well.