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Civil Rights Memorial

Civil Rights Memorial


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In 1989 the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) established the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. Designed by the artist Maya Lin, the circular black granite table records the names of 40 people who lost their lives during the struggle and chronicles the history of the Movement in lines that radiate like the hands of a clock.

The memorial was built at the entrance to the SPLC and close to the church where Martin Luther King served as minister when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Over 6,000 people gathered in Montgomery on November 5, 1989, to participate in the dedication of the Memorial. This included Julian Bond, Rosa Parks, Morris Dees, Rita Schwerner Bender, widow of Michael Schwerner; Mamie Till Mobley, mother of Emmett Till; Chris McNair, father of Birmingham bombing victim Denise McNair; and Myrlie Evers, widow of Medger Evers.

Names on the memorial include Emmett Till, Herbert Lee, Medger Evers, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Jimmie Lee Jackson, James Reeb, Viola Liuzzo, Jonathan Daniels, Samuel Younge and Martin Luther King.


Civil Rights Memorial - History

Work on the memorial began in 2010 when EJI staff began investigating thousands of racial terror lynchings in the American South, many of which had never been documented. EJI was interested not only in lynching incidents, but in understanding the terror and trauma this sanctioned violence against the Black community created. Six million Black people fled the South as refugees and exiles as a result of these "racial terror lynchings."

This research ultimately produced Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror in 2015 which documented thousands of racial terror lynchings in 12 states. Since the report’s release, EJI has supplemented its original research by documenting racial terror lynchings in states outside the Deep South. EJI staff have also embarked on a project to memorialize this history by visiting hundreds of lynching sites, collecting soil, and erecting public markers, in an effort to reshape the cultural landscape with monuments and memorials that more truthfully and accurately reflect our history.

The Memorial for Peace and Justice was conceived with the hope of creating a sober, meaningful site where people can gather and reflect on America’s history of racial inequality. EJI partnered with artists like Kwame Akoto-Bamfo whose sculpture on slavery confronts visitors when they first enter the memorial. EJI then leads visitors on a journey from slavery, through lynching and racial terror, with text, narrative, and monuments to the lynching victims in America. In the center of the site, visitors will encounter a memorial square, built in collaboration with MASS Design Group. The memorial experience continues through the civil rights era made visible with a sculpture by Dana King dedicated to the women who sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Finally, the memorial journey ends with contemporary issues of police violence and racially biased criminal justice expressed in a final work created by Hank Willis Thomas. The memorial displays writing from Toni Morrison and Elizabeth Alexander, words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a reflection space in honor of Ida B. Wells.

Set on a six-acre site, the memorial uses sculpture, art, and design to contextualize racial terror. The site includes a memorial square with 800 six-foot monuments to symbolize thousands of racial terror lynching victims in the United States and the counties and states where this terrorism took place.

The memorial structure on the center of the site is constructed of over 800 corten steel monuments, one for each county in the United States where a racial terror lynching took place. The names of the lynching victims are engraved on the columns. The memorial is more than a static monument. It is EJI’s hope that the National Memorial inspires communities across the nation to enter an era of truth-telling about racial injustice and their own local histories.

The Community Remembrance Project is one tool EJI offers to support communities looking to engage in this work. EJI’s community remembrance work is part of a larger movement to create an era of restorative truth-telling and justice that changes the consciousness of our nation. We work with communities to erect historical markers, organize soil collection ceremonies, and hold essay contests for local high school students to support the development of local, community-led efforts to engage with and discuss past and present issues of racial justice. After active Community Remembrance work, EJI will also collaborate to place a monument — identical to the monument found at the National Memorial — in the community. EJI believes that markers and monuments can help transform our national landscape into a more honest reflection of the history of America and reflect a community’s ongoing commitment to truth-telling and racial justice.

When a county’s memorial monument is installed, as a culminating feature of that community work and dialogue, we hope that it can represent the accomplishment of the work done so far, and stand as a symbolic reminder of the community’s continuing efforts to truthfully grapple with painful racial history, challenge injustice where it exists in their own lives, and vow never to repeat the terror and violence of the past.

The process of local communities claiming their memorial monuments is thus about much more than transporting and installing the physical monuments themselves. Rather, it first requires an effort to encourage communities across the nation to engage in genuine and sustained work that advances a new era of truth and justice by confronting racial history in a way most communities have never done. EJI’s Community Remembrance Project is one form that work can take, and we are proud to offer our tools and resources to communities interested in using that partnership to advance those goals. Community coalitions who complete community soil collection and narrative historical marker projects, or pursue other, independent community efforts to foster dialogue and remembrance, help raise local consciousness of racial history and help foster dialogue about the connections to contemporary issues and further develop a communal identity that prioritizes historical truth-telling and repair.


Southern Poverty Law Center Civil Rights Memorial and Memorial Center

Civil Rights Memorial The memorial, dedicated on November 5, 1989, was designed by renowned American artist Maya Lin, who also designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is constructed of the same materials and is similar in design, consisting of a circular black granite table backed by a large black granite wall. The table is inscribed with the names and dates of death of 40 individuals who were killed for their efforts during the American civil rights movement between 1958 and April 1968, marking the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The names are located around the outer edge of the circle at the end of lines that radiate from the center like the time locations on a clock. A continuous stream of water fed by a pump washes over the top of the table. The large black granite wall behind the table also has a recirculating water feature and is engraved with King's well-known paraphrase of the Bible quote from Amos 5:24: "(We will not be satisfied) 'until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream'." Like the Vietnam memorial, this memorial invites visitors to touch the engraved names, and the surrounding plaza provides an area of somber contemplation for visitors. Wall of Tolerance The center goes beyond the traditional major figures of the civil rights movement to tell the stories of the unsung heroes of the movement, including veterans, college students, children, priests, and others who have participated in the struggle. The center hosts a display called "The Forgotten," which includes the names of 74 men and women whose deaths during the civil rights era suggest that they were victims of hate crimes. But their names were not inscribed on the nearby memorial because of insufficient information surrounding their deaths at the time that the memorial was created. Visitors are also treated to the 18-minute Faces in the Water film, which tells the stories of those individuals whose names are inscribed on the memorial as well as the stories of their families. The Wall of Tolerance is a large multi-story screen that displays the names of thousands of individuals who have taken the pledge to stand for justice and tolerance in their daily lives. Visitors can add their names to the wall via a keyboard located in the room. Recent upgrades to the wall allow it to honor the martyrs of the civil rights movement on the anniversary of their deaths by displaying their photos. The center hopes to add more interactive technology such as a digital map of nearby historic sites and touchscreen displays that will highlight the stories of contemporary victims of hate crimes. The center and memorial have served as the site of somber vigils concerning civil rights and the struggle for equality, including the controversial deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

See America’s First Memorial to its 4,400 Lynching Victims

Attempts to reckon with America’s history of racism have been difficult in the South, particularly the deep South states of Alabama and Mississippi. They are the onlytwo states that celebrate Martin Luther King and Robert E. Lee’s birth on the same day. But on April 26, 2018, a new memorial and museum will challenge Montgomery, Alabama, to confront its own history of slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow laws, as well as the past’s relationship to mass incarceration.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is an outdoor structure that includes 800 monuments, each representing a U.S. county where lynchings occurred and listing the names of people killed in that county. Most radically, the memorial is surrounded by replica memorials for each of the 800 U.S. counties to come claim.

�h county represented here will have the opportunity to take one of the figures back to their communities as a way to remember and to begin a conversation,” observed Nia-Malika Henderson, a senior political reporter for CNN, when she visited the memorial. “It will also be obvious which counties do not claim their monuments.”

There are more than 4,400 victims commemorated on the memorial’s rust-colored steel columns� more lynchings than had previously been recognized, according to the memorial’s website.

After the Civil War, lynching became a terrorist tactic that white people used to exert power over newly-freed black men and women. Although many Americans think of it as a Southern phenomenon, lynchings took place in the North, too. Lynching was not de jure legal in that it was carried out by a mob rather than a formal judge and jury. However, because lynchings went unchallenged in courts, they became a de facto form of legalized mob violence.

No rationale was needed for lynching, but the people who carried them out often accused black men of some perceived slight against white women. These slights could be non-criminal offenses like knocking on a woman’s door, or criminal accusations like rape. However, because white people used lynching as a tool to intimidate black people and discourage them from exercising rights like voting, historians view these accusations with extreme skepticism. In 1955, a white woman named Carolyn Bryant Donham accused 14-year-old lynching victim Emmett Till of making “verbal and physical advances” but years later, she admitted she𠆝 made the whole thing up.

The memorial is about a 15 minute walk away from The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, which aims to show the historical progression from slavery to other forms of violent, racialized oppression. This includes lynch mobs, Jim Crow laws, terrorist actions against Civil Rights activists, and the mass incarceration of black people𠅊 phenomenon that writer Michelle Alexander famously termed The New Jim Crow.

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Contents

Memorial came into existence in response to the revelations during perestroika about the Soviet past and concern about human rights in the present, especially in certain "hotspots" around the USSR. [9] A key moment in the society's development was the Moscow conference on 29–30 October 1988. After the failure of officialdom and moderates to ensure the conference was postponed, it gathered 338 delegates from 57 towns and cities. In a report to the Politburo dated 16 November the new KGB head Vladimir Kryuchkov noted that 66% of the delegates came from Moscow and the Moscow Region. His main focus was on the "provocative statements" made by former dissidents and young activists during the two-day event. [10]

Secretaries of several creative unions (Architects, Designers, Artists and Film-makers) were present as potential trustees. More radical voices were also to be heard: the Moscow Popular Front and the newly-founded Democratic Union, uncensored periodicals such as Glasnost and Express Chronicle. Many of the Moscow Action Group of Memorial were to be found among the radicals. [11] The conference was addressed by veteran dissidents Larisa Bogoraz and Elena Bonner, and by the octogenarian writer Oleg Volkov, an early inmate of the Solovki camp. In his report to the Politburo KGB head Kryuchkov singled out Arseny Roginsky, future chairman (1998-2017) of International Memorial, as particularly outspoken. Memorial should become an heir to the Helsinki Groups of the late Soviet period, said Roginsky, and he named the Chronicle of Current Events (1968-1982) [12] and its compilers as a model to be emulated. [13]

After the Soviet Union was dissolved in December 1991, Memorial reconstituted itself as International Memorial, a society engaged in "Historical, Educational, Human Rights And Charitable" activities. According to its post-Soviet 1992 charter, Memorial pursued the following aims:

  • To promote mature civil society and democracy based on the rule of law and thus to prevent a return to totalitarianism
  • To assist the formation of public awareness based on the values of democracy and law, to extirpate totalitarian patterns [of thought and behaviour], and to firmly establish human rights in everyday politics and public life
  • To promote the truth about the historical past and perpetuate the memory of the victims of political repression carried out by totalitarian regimes. [14]

Over the past twenty years, for instance, it has built up an online database of the victims of political repression in the USSR. Its fifth version contained over three million names and yet it was estimated that 75% of the victims had not yet been identified and recorded. [15] This resource was created by entering information accumulated all over Russia since the late 1980s in Books of Remembrance, short biographical entries of those sent to the Gulag or shot during the Great Terror (1937-1938). [16] Commenting recently on this work Memorial had the following to say about this apparently "impressive number": [17]

"The present version contains, we estimate, no more than a quarter of the victims of political terror [in the USSR], even if we restrict ourselves to individuals covered by the terms of the October 1991 Law 'On the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Political Repression' and include only those who were executed, imprisoned or deported."

Memorial organizes assistance, both legal and financial, for the victims of the Gulag. It also conducts research into the history of political repression and publicizes the findings in books, articles, exhibitions, museums, and websites of its member organizations.

A day and place of remembrance Edit

Moscow Memorial was among the organisations that persuaded the Russian authorities to follow the longstanding dissident tradition of marking 30 October each year, [18] transforming it into an official Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions. Over the next thirty years this commemorative date was widely adopted across Russia. [19]

On 30 October 1990 a plain boulder from the Solovki prison camp on the White Sea, was erected in front of the Polytechnical Museum on Lubyanka Square in Moscow. This placed it in close proximity to the headquarters of the KGB and its Soviet predecessors since 1918, and of the present Federal Security Service (or FSB). The base of the monument reads: "To the Victims of Political Repression". Its appearance resolved a long and inconclusive public discussion about the form that such a monument should take.

The Solovki Stone Edit

The Solovki Stone was a reminder that the USSR's first permanent concentration camp was set up in 1923 when Lenin was leader of Soviet Russia. In Solzhenitsyn's vivid analogy, the Solovki prison camp was the cell from which the entire Gulag evolved. [20] In time the Stone on Lubyanka Square became the focus of remembrance in Moscow. The idea was copied more than once, in St Petersburg, for instance, when it erected a similar memorial in 2004. The original impulse came from northwest Russia.

In 1990 the local "Sovest" (Conscience) society was preparing to erect such a boulder in Arkhangelsk for the same commemorative purpose. Hearing of this proposal, Moscow Memorial requested Sovest to select a similar boulder and arranged for its transport to Moscow where it was erected on Lubyanka Square. For the next nine months the Solovki Stone faced the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Cheka, which stood in the centre of the square. After the attempted August 1991 coup the Dzerzhinsky statue, first erected in 1958, was toppled and removed. [21]

In the 1990s the Stone became the site for the commemoration in Moscow of the "Day of Remembrance" on 30 October each year. Later, from 2007 onwards, it was also the focus of a yearly ceremony "Restoring the Names" held on the previous day, 29 October. For hour after hour, a long queue of volunteers waited to read out one or more names of those who were imprisoned or executed in Moscow and the Moscow Region during the 1930s. In 2016 the recitation continued for 12 hours. [22]

October 1991 Law on Rehabilitation Edit

Memorial was among the many organisations and individuals that worked to draft and then secure the passing through the RSFSR Supreme Soviet of the "Law on Rehabilitation of the Victims of Political Repression". Under its terms, up to 12 million Russian citizens and their descendants qualified as Victims of Political Repression. An achievement for its time, the law is now seen as too restrictive, only admitting those formally rehabilitated under Khrushchev in 1956-1964 or under Gorbachev in 1985-1991. It excludes, for instance, many of the peasant families "dekulakized" and deported during the forced collectivisation of agriculture (1928-1933) who only began to receive rehabilitation in the 1990s.

Attempts to backtrack by the city and federal authorities Edit

In 2018, the Moscow authorities suggested that acts of commemoration henceforth take place at the new Wall of Sorrow, opened on 30 October 2017 by President Putin and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church. [23] By then the tradition and public feeling were too strong for the event to be moved anywhere else but the Solovki Stone across the road from FSB headquarters.

As of 2020, however, no direction to the monument has been added to the pedestrian passages that run under Lubyanka Square. There are directions to the Biblio-globus bookshop, the Detsky Mir toyshop and the "Lubyanka Square" metro station. Yet after many years, nothing indicates the way to FSB (KGB) headquarters or the Monument to the Victims of Political Repression. [ citation needed ]

In December 2020, the suggestion was made that Dzerzhinsky's statue resume its former place in the centre of Lubyanka Square. A group calling themselves "The Officers of Russia" began a campaign to this end. Opponents encouraged those opposed to this action to vote against the proposal. [ citation needed ]

Archives Edit

Memorial also helps individuals to find documents, graves, etc., of politically involved relatives. As of 2005 [update] , Memorial had a database with records of more than 1,300,000 names of such people. [24] The archives have also been used by historians, such as British historian Orlando Figes when he was researching his 2008 book The Whisperers: Private Lives in Stalin's Russia. [25]

Media Edit

Memorial funds or helps to produce various publications and films related to this topic. One such film was the documentary The Crying Sun (2007), focusing on the life of people from the mountain village of Zumsoy in Chechnya, and their struggle to preserve their cultural identity in the face of military raids and enforced disappearances by the Russian army and guerilla fighters. The 25-minute film was produced in collaboration with WITNESS. [26]

Virtual Gulag Edit

In the early 21st century, Memorial is working on a project to create the Virtual Gulag Museum. This will be a way to bring together research and archives from all over the former Soviet Union to commemorate and record the existence of the Gulag and the lives of its captives. [27]

Kovalevsky Forest Edit

Memorial are trying to build a National Memorial Museum Complex in Kovalevsky Forest to commemorate alleged 4,500 victims of the Red Terror who were killed and buried there. [28] Memorial workers discovered the bodies in 2002. [29]

Sandarmokh killing field, 1937–1938 Edit

In July 1997 a joint expedition of the St Petersburg and Karelian Memorial societies located a massive killing field not far from the town of Medvezhegorsk, capital of the pre-war White Sea Canal project. Led by Yury A. Dmitriev, Irina Flige, and the late Veniamin Joffe, the expedition found 236 common graves containing the bodies of over 7,000 victims of Stalin, who were executed in 1937 and 1938. A memorial graveyard was established there and became known as Sandarmokh.

In 2016, the Russian government attempted to revise this account of the shootings at Sandarmokh, and claim that among the dead were Soviet POWs, shot by invading Finns in 1941–1944. Memorial representatives challenged both the motivation behind this claim and the purported new evidence intended to support it. [30]

A Chronicle of Current Events (1968–1982) Edit

In 2008 Memorial HRC launched an online version of the noted samizdat publication, A Chronicle of Current Events, which had been distributed in the Soviet Union. [31] Appearing at irregular intervals during the year, the Chronicle had circulated in typescript form (samizdat) in the USSR from 1968 to 1983. All of its 63 issues were also translated into English and published abroad. [32] Western observers and scholars considered it to be a key source of trustworthy information about human rights in the post-Stalin Soviet Union.

The launch of the online version was held at Memorial's office in Karetny pereulok. Many former editors of the underground publication attended, including Sergei Kovalev and Alexander Lavut.

Andrei Sakharov wrote that Lev Ponomaryov, Yuri Samodurov, Vyacheslav Igrunov, Dmitri Leonov, Arseny Roginsky and others proposed in the late 1980s to create a memorial complex to victims of Joseph Stalin's repression. The concepts included creating a monument, a museum, an archive, and a library.

An all-Union informal movement expanded the original goals. It organized a petition to the 19th Conference of the CPSU. The petition resulted in the conference authorizing creation of a monument to victims of repressions. A decision of the 22nd Congress of the CPSU was earlier ignored. [33] [34]

The Memorial was founded as the historical and educational society at the conference held in the Moscow Aviation Institute 26–28 January 1989. In 1991 a Civil Rights Defense Center "MEMORIAL" was founded. [35]

A poll was conducted in Moscow streets to identify candidates to be nominated to the Public Council of the society. Author Alexander Solzhenitsyn was named, but the refused to join. In his talk with Andrei Sakharov, he motivated his decision by his opinion that it was not right to restrict the scope of the project to the Stalin era since the repressive era in Russia had started as early as 1917. [33]

The Memorial was officially founded as the International Volunteer Public Organization "MEMORIAL Historical, Educational, Human Rights And Charitable Society" on 19 April 1992. [36]

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the society became international, with organizations in several post-Soviet states: Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Georgia, as well as in Italy (since 20 April 2004). [37]

In 2004, Memorial was among the four recipients of the Right Livelihood Award, for its work in documenting violations of human rights in Russia and other former states in the USSR. [38] Quoting the RLA jury: ". for showing, under very difficult conditions, and with great personal courage, that history must be recorded and understood, and human rights respected everywhere, if sustainable solutions to the legacy of the past are to be achieved."

In the same year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) named Memorial as the winner of the annual Nansen Refugee Award for its wide range of services on behalf of forced migrants and internally displaced people in the Russian Federation, as well as refugees from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. [39]

In 2008, Memorial won the Hermann Kesten Prize. In 2009, Memorial won the Sakharov Prize of the European Union, in memory of murdered Memorial activist Natalya Estemirova. [40] Announcing the award, President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek said that the assembly hoped "to contribute to ending the circle of fear and violence surrounding human rights defenders in the Russian Federation". [40] Oleg Orlov, the chairman of Memorial, commented that the prize represents "much-needed moral support at a difficult time for rights activists in Russia", [41] and that he considers the prize "a mark of the high value placed on the work of Memorial and that of all of our colleagues - Russian rights activists who are working in a very difficult situation". [42] A cash reward, which comes with the prize, of €50,000 is to be awarded to Memorial in December 2009. [40]

The writer and historian Irina Scherbakowa, who was a founder member and an employee of Memorial, was given Ossietzky Award [43] and the Goethe Medal for her work relating to Memorial's activities.

On 4 February 2015 Lech Wałęsa nominated Memorial International for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize [46]

Confiscation of digital archive Edit

On 4 December 2008, Memorial's St Petersburg office, which houses archives on the Gulag, was raided by the authorities. Officers confiscated 11 computer hard disks containing the entire digital archive of atrocities committed under Stalin, representing 20 years of research. The information was being used to develop "a universally accessible database with hundreds of thousands of names." Office director Irina Flinge believes that Memorial was targeted because their organization is on the wrong side of Putinism, specifically the idea "that Stalin and the Soviet regime were successful in creating a great country". [47] [48]

Officially, the raid was related to an article published in the Novy Peterburg newspaper in June 2007. [49] Memorial denies any link to that article. Some human rights lawyers in Russia have speculated that the raid was retaliation for Memorial screening a banned film Rebellion: the Litvinenko Case (2007), about the murder of Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko in Great Britain in 2006. The film was distributed in the West under the title Poisoned by Polonium. [27] [50]

According to historian Orlando Figes, the raid "was clearly intended to intimidate Memorial". [51] Allison Gill, director of Human Rights Watch in Moscow, said "This outrageous police raid shows the poisonous climate for non-governmental organisations in Russia [. ] This is an overt attempt by the Russian government [. ] to silence critical voices." [51] Academics from all over the world, signed an open letter to Dmitry Medvedev that condemned the seizure of disks and material. [27] The United States declared that it is "deeply concerned" about the raid: State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said: "Unfortunately, this action against Memorial is not an isolated instance of pressure against freedom of association and expression in Russia." [27]

On 20 March 2009, the court of Dzerzhinsky District ruled that the search on 4 December 2008, in Memorial and confiscation of 12 HDDs was carried out with procedural violations, and actions of law enforcement bodies were illegal. [52] [53] [54] Eventually the 12 hard drives, plus optical discs and some papers, were returned to Memorial in 2009. [55] [3].

Activities in Chechnya Edit

Memorial had an office in Chechnya, to monitor human rights issues there. It was frequently raided by the authorities. A Memorial activist Natalia Estemirova, who investigated murders and abductions in Chechnya, was abducted in Grozny and shot to death in Ingushetia on 15 July 2009. [56] BBC reporters have suggested her death was connected to her investigations of government-backed militias in the country. [57] Memorial's chairman Oleg Orlov accused Ramzan Kadyrov of being behind the murder, [58] and claimed that Kadyrov had openly threatened her. [59] Kadyrov denied his involvement [60] and sued Memorial for defamation, naming Orlov specifically in his complaint. [60] [61]

On 18 July 2009, Memorial suspended its activities in Chechnya, stating "We cannot risk the lives of our colleagues even if they are ready to carry on their work." [62]

Foreign agent Edit

Russian authorities declared that Memorial was a "foreign agent" under the Russian law that requires organizations that accept funds from abroad and engage in "political activity" to register and declare themselves as a "foreign agent". The management of Memorial has argued that the society's activities of the society do not meet the criteria of "political activity" under this law. [63]

Following this designation, Russia's Justice Ministry, in its annual "foreign agent" audit, accused Memorial of "undermining the foundations of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation" and of calling for "a change of political regime" in the country. [64] [65] [66] As of June 2017, Memorial was still listed on Russia's "foreign agents" registry. [67]

Possible closure Edit

In 2014, the Russian Minister of Justice Aleksandr Konovalov called for Memorial to be liquidated. The lawsuit concerned technical details over the legal registration of Memorial. [68] [69] [70]

Arson attack Edit

On 17 January 2018, masked arsonists set fire to Memorial's North Caucasus office in Nazran, Ingushetia. [71]


Lincoln Memorial

“With malice toward none, with charity for all we dedicate ourselves and our posterity, with you and yours, to finish the work which he so nobly began, to make America an example for all the world of equal justice and equal opportunity for all.”

Robert Russo Moton,
Address at the Lincoln Memorial dedication, May 30, 1922

A National Stage for Civil Rights
The Lincoln Memorial was built in 1922 to heal national divisions caused by the Civil War. Yet for many, Lincoln’s promise of freedom remained incomplete. Over the next half century, the looming figure of Abraham Lincoln witnessed a number of events and demonstrations that reinforced the memorial’s importance as a symbolic space for civil rights movements.

Dedication of the Lincoln Memorial
On May 30, 1922, a large crowd gathered for the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial. The seating, like much of Washington, was segregated by race, yet the organizers chose Dr. Robert Russo Moton, President of Tuskegee Institute, as the keynote speaker. Addressing the mostly white crowd, Moton delivered the first of what would be many civil rights speeches at the memorial. He challenged the audience to consider Lincoln’s call for a “new birth of freedom.” From that day forward, the Lincoln Memorial became a national gathering place for groups demanding racial and social justice.

Dedication Ceremony Programs

National Museum of American History

Marian Anderson Concert
In a direct challenge to segregation, Marian Anderson performed at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday in 1939. The Daughters of the American Revolution had barred her from singing in Washington’s Constitution Hall. In response, a broad coalition of civil rights advocates, with support from Eleanor Roosevelt and Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes, organized a concert on the steps of the memorial. More than 75,000 people attended the performance, and millions more listened to the live radio broadcast. Anderson opened by pointedly singing “My Country Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Liberty.” The concert lasted less than an hour, but it honored Anderson’s talents as a black artist and forever fixed the Lincoln Memorial as a symbolic shrine to civil rights.

Marian Anderson Concert at the Lincoln Memorial

National Museum of American History, photographs by Robert Scurlock

"Nobody expects ten thousand Negroes to get together and march anywhere for anything at any time. In common parlance, they are supposed ot be just scared and unorganizable. Is this true? I contend it is not."

A. Philip Randolph
February 6, 1941

1941 March on Washington
As the nation prepared for World War II, A. Philip Randolph, President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, called for a mass protest on July 1, 1941, to end discrimination in government defense industries. Randolph worked with local organizers to mobilize African American communities and estimated that as many as 100,000 participants had committed themselves to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Lincoln Memorial.

Just six days before the demonstration, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, establishing the Fair Employment Practice Committee and prohibiting discrimination in defense industries. Randolph canceled the protest, and Roosevelt’s concessions established the precedent that the federal government had a responsibility to address racial discrimination among government contractors.

Button for the 1941 March

National Museum of American History, gift of Rita Jaros

1957 Prayer Pilgrimage
In 1957, civil rights leaders called for a demonstration at the Lincoln Memorial to coincide with the third anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Brown v Board of Education. Organizers were determined to protest the lack of progress in desegregating schools, draw attention to the deteriorating economic conditions of blacks in the South, and push for new civil rights legislation. More than 25,000 people attended the rally on May 17, making it the largest civil rights demonstration in the nation’s capital. It also served as a training ground for the organizers of the 1963 march, including A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King Jr., and Roy Wilkins.


Address: 1456 Van Buren St, Jacksonville, FL 32206

  • The church was organized in 1865, only weeks after the Confederate Army had surrendered. It became the first black independent church in Florida.
  • While the original building is no longer standing, a marker commemorating the historic church and its continued existence is located at 1456 Van Buren St, Jacksonville, FL 32206
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August 28, 2011, the 48th anniversary of the groundbreaking March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, witnessed the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. It is fitting that on this date, reminiscent of the defining moment in Dr. King's leadership in the Civil Rights movement in the form of solid granite, his legacy is further cemented in the tapestry of the American experience.

His leadership in the drive for realization of the freedoms and liberties laid down in the foundation of the United States of America for all of its citizens, without regard to race, color, or creed is what introduced this young southern clergyman to the nation. The delivery of his message of love and tolerance through the means of his powerful gift of speech and eloquent writings inspire to this day, those who yearn for a gentler, kinder world. His inspiration broke the boundaries of intolerance and even national borders, as he became a symbol, recognized worldwide of the quest for civil rights of the citizens of the world.

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Among many of the nation's most iconic monuments, a new memorial was raised to honor a man's legacy of civil rights for all Americans.

African American Civil Rights Network

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is part of a new national network of places commemorating the Civil Right Movement.


Miami Black History: Florida Memorial University in the civil rights movement

St. Augustine was a hotbed of civil rights upheaval in Florida, and the steadfast activism of students at Florida Memorial University fueled the state’s struggle toward justice. Today, FMU is South Florida’s only historically black university. Learn how the civil rights movement shaped the school and its students, and eventually caused the storied institution’s relocation to Miami.

Before college students at Florida Memorial like Maude Burroughs Jackson prepared to go out to protest for civil rights on the streets of St. Augustine, Florida in 1964, they would attend a mass meeting at a church. There, they would hear of the daily Jim Crow era indignities — who had tried to eat in a cafe and was turned away, who applied to work somewhere and was turned down, if anyone had been assaulted by Klansmen.

In archival video news footage from Miami TV station WCKT that summer, SCLC field secretary Andrew Young led protesters at a mass meeting singing the spiritual “We Shall Not Be Moved” with zeal Burroughs Jackson likens to a high school pep rally.

In the summer of 1964, demonstrations in the small northeast Florida town became regular and segregationists violently opposed the protesters’ demands of equality. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. threw his support to the well-publicized campaign in St. Augustine. It was the only place King was arrested in Florida. The battle for civil rights there gained the country’s attention. Violent scenes from St. Augustine in the media became a catalyst in passing the civil rights act of 1964.

Students and administrators at Florida Memorial University were an integral part of the civil rights fight half a century ago in St. Augustine. But instead of thanking those protesters for their efforts, racists ran the institution out of town.

Four years later, FMU moved to Miami. History professor Tameka Hobbs said the history of the Historically Black College that made the move from St. Augustine to Miami in 1968 because of racial violence is unique.

“I think you’d be hard pressed to find an HBCU at 136 years old that had to relocate not once but twice due to racial violence,” said Hobbs. “We were run out of Live Oak, Florida in 1892 because local whites were upset that we were training ‘uppity Negroes’ as the term would have been back then.” That spawned a move to Jacksonville and the creation of the Florida Baptist Academy. In 1918, the institution relocated to St. Augustine where it remained until 1968.

“After the civil rights protests in the 1960s… the relationship with the white power structure in St. Augustine were such that, we were again forced to leave that city to the safety of South Florida,” said Hobbs. “It’s a powerful story of perseverance.”

College-aged people in particular had a huge role to play in these fights for integration in localities throughout the nation, particularly in South. Before MLK’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference came into St. Augustine, a local dentist, Robert Hayling and other leaders of the NAACP had been very active. They recruited from the campus. As St. Augustine prepares to celebrate its 450th anniversary in 2015, and marked the 50th anniversary of the protests, Hobbs is documenting the stories behind those efforts as the University historian.

At the mass meetings, Burroughs Jackson said the singing would give them the strength to face the violence that awaited them as they marched silently. “I remember one particular night right down in here that I could have been badly hurt,” said Burroughs Jackson. “My partner for that night was Jimmy Jackson. As a brick or a bottle was coming at me, he pushed me out of the way and I didn’t get hurt that night. But there were nights that people got beat up, bloody. It was sad.”

These awful and brave memories flood back to Burroughs Jackson as she sits in the center of St. Augustine at la Plaza de la Constitucion on a bench, near a roofed pavilion, where today, a vendor sells jewelry.

“This was the slave market, you know the whole history that slaves were sold here,” said Burroughs Jackson. “History is history. Good bad or ugly, you can’t wash it away. This is one of the places we always came for our marches and everything when we left Lincolnville. This is the place that was designated for the footsoldiers. There are hundreds and hundreds of people.”

It was also the gathering place for the Klan who came from around Florida, Georgia and beyond. Burroughs Jackson and the other protesters challenged St. Augustine’s power structure when it excluded the Black residents in so many ways as the town embarked on its 400th anniversary.

The 2015 MLK Day Sunday Service at the Church of the Incarnation on NW 54th Street in Miami featured FMU president Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis. The congregation joined the choir in singing the Black national anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” which a FMU faculty member helped compose while employed at Florida Baptist Academy.

The mood at the event was celebratory but pragmatic. The present day challenges are not lost on the crowd — the Trayvon Martin Foundation is housed at FMU.

Cynthia Mitchell Clark

One woman in attendance, Cynthia Mitchell Clark was a high school student in St. Augustine who joined the 1964 protests. She remembers the humiliation of having to study in the closet because a light on in their house on a main road attracted attacks from the Klan. She also remembers the energy of the Florida Memorial students and the national leaders who came to prepare them for battle.

“I remember C.T. Vivian [a minister and close friend of King] would start singing ‘I love everybody,’ said Mitchell Clark. “And that was something that we sang constantly because he didn’t want us to start hating people because of what they were doing.” When Mitchell Clark goes back to visit her mother she is struck by positive changes in the city.

Retired teacher and actor Gerald Eubanks had a special role during the early 1960s in St. Augustine. A native of the city with a large extended family, he first encountered the civil rights movement as a freshman at Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1960. He returned to his hometown and transferred to Florida Memorial. Seeing the conditions for Blacks there got to him, and he became the president of the NAACP youth council. He tells the history of St. Augustine civil rights struggle by reading the poem Invictus: “I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul,” Eubanks intoned in his acting and dance studio where he displayed an exhibit he created on the civil rights movement in St. Augustine. “If you read the core, it is a kind of internal spirit that must have been inside of anybody who participated in the movement that is going against the status quo and daring to do it. You did it when it was critical.”

In 1964 Eubanks assigned children to picket. For years the city did not want to acknowledge the efforts of the demonstrators. Eubanks and others set up markers that show where the important events took place and where King stayed. Eubanks organized the 40th and recently marked the 50th anniversary celebration of the passing of the Civil Rights Act. He recalled Florida Memorial as a place that gave Black students hope — a place where they could dream.

But in the mid-1960s the climate for Florida Memorial grew ugly. The Klan burned crosses on the campus to intimidate the student body. The male students were deputized to bear arms to protect the campus at night. Hobbs said the leadership decided to move to Miami for safety. Hobbs sees the move as a challenge and a hurdle that forced the leadership to build again. Today the University offers 41 undergraduate degree programs and 4 master’s programs.

During the University’s homecoming weekend this month, Hobbs recorded oral histories of some of the oldest alumni. Those stories will become a part of an official history of the institution’s dramatic story.

Dina Weinstein is a South Florida-based writer whose work appears in Moment, Jewish Book World, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the Miami Herald.


Watch the video: civil rights memorial (May 2022).