My journey back to Memphis and ultimately the site of the lynching of Ell Persons began with some basic historical research of my family. My Great Grandfather was one of the Memphis Police City Detectives who investigated the murder of Antoinette Rappel in 1917. He was also involved with the interrogation of Ell Persons and and was one of the authorities who successfully transported him to Nashville after the forced confession. No one living in my family today ever knew about this tragic murder back in 1917 as well as the horrific lynching that subsequently occurred.
“Charlie Morris and Tom Carlson, Companions in Truth” by John Ashworth, Executive Director, Lynching Sites Project of Memphis
I am often emotionally pulled in many directions as I do the work of remembrance of the victims of our nation’s tortured domestic terrorism campaign from the end of the Civil War until about 1960. Along the way, all the people I work with in this effort leave a lasting impression that gets buried in my subconscious. Until that memory gets jarred in some significant way that memory remains among all the rest without much thought.
My reflections of the Montgomery journey. I/we went on Saturday. Our entry was 1:30pm. The museum was informative. For me how long this has been going on. For me like it was something that so called white people were entitled to do. Then the children that are locked up for life. These are children. Who does that to children and why? Museum left me without any and I mean no good feelings about so called white people. So the memorial wasn’t t much better. Walked through the first garden trying to prepare myself for what I was sure was going to effect me in some way.
On Thursday, April 26, 2018, The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in Montgomery, Alabama. It was the vision of Attorney Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). The grand opening was attended by thousands from all over the United States and several foreign countries. The Legacy Museum is the culmination of years of research into America’s history of racial inequality and continued exploitation of Africans brought here in chains against their will.