MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Thursday was a very emotional day in downtown Montgomery- the opening of the legacy museum brought hundreds from all walks of life and from around the world.
The exhibit takes an in-depth look at the timeline in black history from slavery to the current state of mass incarceration. Visitors said the exhibits clearly explain the relationship and how the nation got to where it is now.
Groups have gone through the exhibit throughout the day, leaving very emotional- using words like, "heavy" and "overwhelmed"; many leaving in tears.
"Some of the big take always is how much there's a direct connection between slavery and mass incarceration. It's shocking when you stop and see it all in front of you. Racism still exists and, so much of the history, it's a national story. Not just a southern story," said Laura Mazzola, who traveled all the way from San Francisco.
A rabbi, also from San Francisco, brought his congregation to the museum.
"It's a sense of mourning for the America that was, the America that still is," said Rabbi Michael Lezak. "I think the purpose of going to a place of devastation is to understand that pain, to take all that in and to hopefully look at the wound that's wide open from racism in America and use this place as a place to plant our souls and grow something new."
One Montgomery man said the issues he saw in the exhibits are too close for comfort.
"I feel heavy. I was telling one of the greeters as I was leaving, I felt like I needed to decompress," said Carlton Avery after exiting the museum. "It's alarming to me that, with the history we have, as well as the fact that it's still here. It's still present today. Nothing has changed in my opinion. I feel that it has just resurfaced under a different face and so we're still charged to make some changes here in our city as well as nationwide."
Though Avery said he wasn't able to get all the way through the exhibit, he said he will come back to finish the rest.
WSFA 12 News was not allowed inside to take any photos or videos, but nearly everyone who came out of the exhibit was very emotional.