Lynching In America: Confronting The Legacy of Racial Terror Google & EJI Partner In Mighty New Initiative

06/13/2017 10:31 am ET Updated Jun 14, 2017

America’s journey to its current state of divisiveness is not happenstance. By a strategic design, division keeps the few in power and the majority oppressed. One of the most effective methods of maintaining the discord is keeping us away from the truth of who we really are. By concealing or altering many hideous truths about our past, we seek solace in our collective numbing.

Rising above the dissension, indifference and subterfuge are the growing voices of change. Included in this symphony are powerhouses Google and The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). The organizations have partnered to bring this difficult subject matter to the national dialogue. Launching Lynching In America, they aim to peel back this century old scab exposing another unhealed wound in our nation’s soul. Learning the true horrors of our very own involvement in fostering the domestic terrorism of lynching, we can begin to reconcile our blemished past and help secure an effulgent future. It begins with knowing the truth. We can only heal what we’re willing to face.

More that 4000 people were lynched. 4000 people. Most in a few confined areas of the South. Let that sink in. Individuals whose names we did not know were ruthlessly murdered with impunity. Families devastated. Heinous crimes concealed. Ignorance was replaced with information.

Through the great work of the EJI and Google we learn the names of these individual and in many cases we study their stories. “Google has been able to take what we know about lynching, and what we have heard from the families, and what we have seen in the spaces and the communities where these acts of terror took place, and make that knowledge accessible to a lot more people.” says Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director, EJI. Taking lynchings out of a collective abstract and putting names and living descendants out there humanizes these 4000 plus people.

Google's mission statement is universal access to information and knowledge for everyone. What's important about EJI's Lynching in America project is that they are giving everyone access to untold stories of our racial history and helping people develop a deeper understanding for how we have gotten to where we are in this country. — Justin Steele, Principal, Google.orgIn 2015, Equal Justice Initiative received a $1 million grant from Google.org to help fund the From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration Museum, as well as its Memorial to Peace and Justice. After the grant was made, EJI and Google.org looked for further ways to work together. EJI’s recently published report, Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror (in the form of an 80-page publication), seemed like an opportunity to leverage Google’s expertise — organizing information and making it more universally accessible — in the name of amplifying Equal Justice Initiative’s message. Coinciding with the launch of this project on 6/13, Google.org will donate another $1 million to EJI to support its racial justice work.

This project is a reflection of Google’s longstanding commitment to equality and our investments in innovators making a difference in racial and criminal justice. This announcement comes on the heels of $11.5 million in Google.org racial justice grants announced in February of this year, and a total of over $17 million to date.

The Lynching in America site http://lynchinginamerica.eji.org brings together Equal Justice Initiative’s in-depth research and data with the stories of lynching victims, as told by their descendants. Through six audio stories, and a short documentary, Uprooted, you both hear and feel the impact of this dark time in history on generations of families. You can also explore an interactive map that includes incidents of racial terror lynchings, as well as in-depth profiles of the stories behind these acts of violence.

Each of us must confront these truths. It’s emotional, heartbreaking and infuriating. Acknowlegement of the atrocities paired with candid, civil discourse can begin to turn the tides of negativity that appear to be drowning us.

Visit the site. Explore. Feel. Act. Healing begins with you.

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