The United States has a history of selectively ignoring its long history of racial violence against black people, especially the thousands of lynchings that occurred. In order to commemorate these tragedies, the Equal Justice Initiative is working to permanently honor the fallen with a memorial but was having issues raising the funds needed for its construction.
Fortunately, the campaign just got some major backing.
Jon and Pat Stryker, sibling philanthropists and children of the late Lee Stryker, have donated a total of $10 million to The Memorial to Peace and Justice, according to MLive.
“We are pleased to make this donation in honor of our father, Lee Stryker,” Pat and Jon Stryker said in a written statement. “Dad believed strongly in justice and equality and through his words and deeds taught us those values from the earliest age. He would be humbled to know that this gift will help to erect an essential and long-overdue memorial. Our hope is that through this memorial we can acknowledge our country’s history of brutal racial violence, and that increased visibility can help to inform present-day discussions of race relations.”
The memorial will rest on six acres of land and include 800 concrete columns, each representing where more than 4,000 lynchings took place in the United States. The project will also create duplicate columns that can be found in the park which the respective counties will be able to claim and permanently relocate.
The Equal Justice Initiative is still $5 million away from its goal to complete construction on both the memorial, which is scheduled for completion in 2018, and the neighboring From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration museum, which will open in 2017. But the Stryker’s contribution was surely a huge help in the process.
“We are deeply moved by this extraordinary gift by the Stryker siblings. Pat and Jon have committed themselves to social justice and human rights and it is energizing and affirming to witness their commitment and have their support,” EJI Founder and Executive Director Bryan Stevenson said in a written statement. “We are determined to help our nation recover from a history of racial injustice and believe these cultural projects are critically important at a time when the legacy of racial bias still persists. Because of the Strykers we can make an enormous step forward.”
This effort is commendable because, not only is it acknowledging a part of American history that shouldn’t be denied, but it could help bring a brighter future as the world will have permanent reminders of how tragic things once were.