Facing History and Ourselves is an organization that helps high school students recognize racism, anti-semitism, and all forms of bigotry so they can prevent it from happening in the future. It empowers students through knowledge of self and history so that they can become upstanders, people who will stand up and act for justice on behalf of their community.
Roughly 50 more Memphians followed last night at Bruce Elementary School, in the first public meeting of Memphians for Removal of Confederate Monuments, speaking in favor of removing Memphis monuments to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest. They spoke beneath a pre-existing, hand-colored banner proclaiming “We Are Conquerors,” an apparently unconnected piece of school paraphernalia. Perhaps it will prove prophetic.
On Sunday afternoon, in a field between the Wolf River and a miniature golf course, several hundred people met under a tent. From a stage brimming with Memphis interfaith leaders, musicians and high school students organized by the Lynching Sites Project, words affirming the purpose for gathering were spoken: Prayer, repentance and healing from the events that happened 100 years ago on the same land.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Exactly one century ago, Michelle Lisa Whitney's great uncle - Ell Persons - died a brutal death, as a large crowd gathered to watch a white mob burn the woodcutter alive, decapitate, and dismember him near the Wolf River in what today is northeast Memphis.
"The thing that really gets to me is the suffering," Michelle said.
On the surface, there appeared to be little common ground and little to celebrate.
A 16-year-old white girl, murdered while bicycling across a bridge on her way to school, and a black woodcutter who lived nearby burned alive for the crime. Two tragedies, no legal resolution to either.
And yet, not one but two gatherings Sunday afternoon found joy in loss, hope in injustice.