Montgomery memorial opens for unique nighttime viewing

Updated: Jul. 21, 2020 at 9:17 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Starting this week, one of Montgomery’s most popular attractions will offer an experience to visitors in a whole new light. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which honors victims of American lynchings, is opening for nighttime viewing.

“It took us a while to get the lighting positioned,” Equal Justice Initiative Executive Director Bryan Stevenson explained. “It’s different at night. It’s sobering. It’s haunting. You reflect differently. So much of this violence and terror took place at night. And I just think it’s easier to connect to that history.”

While dim, the new lighting shows off the memorial in a more meaningful way, according to EJI staff. And the opportunity comes at a time of a renewed sense of urgency in America for racial reconciliation.

“There’s a hunger in our country right now to understand our history,” Stevenson said.

Because the memorial identifies specific names of victims of racial terror and the counties where the lynchings were carried out, Stevenson says it offers visitors a learning experience unlike any other.

“I think people fear that talking about slavery or lynching means someone will have to be punished,” he said. “I’m not interested in punishment. I’m really interested in liberation. And you have to be willing to talk truthfully about this past to find that liberation.”

Hundreds of thousands of visitors have visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice since it opened in 2018, but this is the first time the memorial will be open at night.

Nighttime viewing will be available on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Visitors will get miniature flashlights to help them make their way through the site (as supplies last).

Admission is free, but day-of tickets are required because of limited capacity. You can reserve your tickets online at the memorial's website.

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