Kweli.tv aims to be the go-to streaming media platform for black filmmakers all over the world to share their content and make money from its distribution. KweliTV handpicks all of its content, with 98 percent of the content having been official selections at film festivals worldwide.
“There are a lot of really great filmmakers out there globally,” KweliTV founder DeShuna Spencer told me. “For us, we’re offering an avenue for filmmakers of color to make money off of their work and be celebrated for the work they do.”
Perhaps, more importantly, KweliTV wants to be a source of authentic storytelling of the black community from the black perspective. A recent study showed the mainstream media (news and opinion media) offers a consistently warped view of black people and black families. For example, black families represent 59 percent of the poor in mainstream media even though they make up just 27 percent of low-income people, according to Color of Change. Meanwhile, white families make up just 17 percent of low-income people while they officially represent 66 percent of the country’s low-income population.
Kweli, which means “truth” in Swahili, aims to tell all sides of the black experience. In order for content to be featured on KweliTV, the the main character needs to be of African descent and “not the sidekick, the friend of the fairy godmother,” KweliTV founder DeShuna Spencer told me. “The black person has to be the main character.”
An example of some KweliTV content is a film called Something Necessary. Created by Kenyan filmmaker Judy Kibinge, Something Necessary explores life after the civil unrest in Kenya following the 2007 elections through the eyes of a woman named Anne. In 2013, the film was nominated for audience choice award at the Chicago International Film Festival and screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.
There are currently 200 titles on the platform, with KweliTV adding about three titles a week in the categories of documentary, shorts and full-length features. Subscribers can watch KweliTV on the web or via Roku, Apple TV or Google Play. Unlike Netflix, the goal is not to have an endless library of content. Instead. KweliTV wants to keep it intimate with no more than 500 titles at a time.
KweliTV, which launched out of beta just a few months ago, currently has 2,000 paying subscribers. By the end of the year, the goal is to hit 30,000 paid subscribers. An annual membership costs $49.99/year and a monthly one costs $5.99.
As a value-add to the streaming content, KweliTV partners with other black-owned businesses to offer discounts and other perks to its subscribers. Subscribers can access discounts at companies like Heritage Box, Black Card Revoked, African Ancestry and others.
On the creator side, filmmakers get paid based on how many minutes people spend viewing their content. More specifically, 60 percent of Kweli.TV’s revenue goes to filmmakers, who get paid quarterly.
In alignment with Spencer’s desire to keep it intimate, KweliTV is going to start hosting in-person events for its members to connect with each other. The first event will be next month.
“We really see Kweli as being a community more than a streaming service,” Spencer said. “Our customers are asking us to be more community-oriented.”
KweliTV is a bootstrapped company in the traditional sense, meaning it hasn’t raised funding from any angel investors or VCs. The company has, however, won $65,000 from a couple of startup competitions.
“It’s a full-time job to raise money,” Spencer said. “That’s not to say we’ll never raise but today, my focus is on revenue.”
One of KweliTV’s competitors, Afrostream, shut down last August, despite raising $4 million in capital. Spencer pointed to Afrostream as a bit of a cautionary tale of trying to grow too quickly.
Instead of becoming a unicorn, Spencer sees her company as a zebra. Unlike unicorns, zebras a profitable and work to improve society, and KweliTV is achieving both of those requirements.
You Might also like
The Great Land Robbery: The shameful story of how 1 million black families have been ripped from their farmsBy Elliot Booker — 2 years agoVann R. Newkirk III September 2019
I. Wiped Out
“You ever chop before?” Willena Scott-White was testing me. I sat with her in the cab of a Chevy Silverado pickup truck, swatting at the squadrons of giant, fluttering mosquitoes that had invaded the interior the last time she opened a window. I was spending the day with her family as they worked their fields just outside Ruleville, in Mississippi’s Leflore County. With her weathered brown hands, Scott-White gave me a pork sandwich wrapped in a grease-stained paper towel. I slapped my leg. Mosquitoes can bite through denim, it turns out.
Cotton sowed with planters must be chopped—thinned and weeded manually with hoes—to produce orderly rows of fluffy bolls. The work is backbreaking, and the people who do it maintain that no other job on Earth is quite as demanding. I had labored long hours over other crops, but had to admit to Scott-White, a 60-something grandmother who’d grown up chopping, that I’d never done it.
“Then you ain’t never worked,” she replied.
The fields alongside us as we drove were monotonous. With row crops, monotony is good. But as we toured 1,000 acres of land in Leflore and Bolivar Counties, straddling Route 61, Scott-White pointed out the demarcations between plots. A trio of steel silos here. A post there. A patch of scruffy wilderness in the distance. Each landmark was a reminder of the Scott legacy that she had fought to keep—or to regain—and she noted this with pride. Each one was also a reminder of an inheritance that had once been stolen.
Drive Route 61 through the Mississippi Delta and you’ll find much of the scenery exactly as it was 50 or 75 years ago. Imposing plantations and ramshackle shotgun houses still populate the countryside from Memphis to Vicksburg. Fields stretch to the horizon. The hands that dig into black Delta dirt belong to people like Willena Scott-White, African Americans who bear faces and names passed down from men and women who were owned here, who were kept here, and who chose to stay here, tending the same fields their forebears tended.
But some things have changed. Back in the day, snow-white bolls of King Cotton reigned. Now much of the land is green with soybeans. The farms and plantations are much larger—industrial operations with bioengineered plants, laser-guided tractors, and crop-dusting drones. Fewer and fewer farms are still owned by actual farmers. Investors in boardrooms throughout the country have bought hundreds of thousands of acres of premium Delta land. If you’re one of the millions of people who have a retirement account with the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, for instance, you might even own a little bit yourself.
A war waged by deed of title has dispossessed 98 percent of black agricultural landowners in America.
TIAA is one of the largest pension firms in the United States. Together with its subsidiaries and associated funds, it has a portfolio of more than 80,000 acres in Mississippi alone, most of them in the Delta. If the fertile crescent of Arkansas is included, TIAA holds more than 130,000 acres in a strip of counties along the Mississippi River. And TIAA is not the only big corporate landlord in the region. Hancock Agricultural Investment Group manages more than 65,000 acres in what it calls the “Delta states.” The real-estate trust Farmland Partners has 30,000 acres in and around the Delta. AgriVest, a subsidiary of the Swiss bank UBS, owned 22,000 acres as of 2011. (AgriVest did not respond to a request for more recent information.)
Unlike their counterparts even two or three generations ago, black people living and working in the Delta today have been almost completely uprooted from the soil—as property owners, if not as laborers. In Washington County, Mississippi, where last February TIAA reportedly bought 50,000 acres for more than $200 million, black people make up 72 percent of the population but own only 11 percent of the farmland, in part or in full. In Tunica County, where TIAA has acquired plantations from some of the oldest farm-owning white families in the state, black people make up 77 percent of the population but own only 6 percent of the farmland. In Holmes County, the third-blackest county in the nation, black people make up about 80 percent of the population but own only 19 percent of the farmland. TIAA owns plantations there, too. In just a few years, a single company has accumulated a portfolio in the Delta almost equal to the remaining holdings of the African Americans who have lived on and shaped this land for centuries.
This is not a story about TIAA—at least not primarily. The company’s newfound dominance in the region is merely the topsoil covering a history of loss and legally sanctioned theft in which TIAA played no part. But TIAA’s position is instrumental in understanding both how the crimes of Jim Crow have been laundered by time and how the legacy of ill-gotten gains has become a structural part of American life. The land was wrested first from Native Americans, by force. It was then cleared, watered, and made productive for intensive agriculture by the labor of enslaved Africans, who after Emancipation would come to own a portion of it. Later, through a variety of means—sometimes legal, often coercive, in many cases legal and coercive, occasionally violent—farmland owned by black people came into the hands of white people. It was aggregated into larger holdings, then aggregated again, eventually attracting the interest of Wall Street.
Owners of small farms everywhere, black and white alike, have long been buffeted by larger economic forces. But what happened to black landowners in the South, and particularly in the Delta, is distinct, and was propelled not only by economic change but also by white racism and local white power. A war waged by deed of title has dispossessed 98 percent of black agricultural landowners in America. They have lost 12 million acres over the past century. But even that statement falsely consigns the losses to long-ago history. In fact, the losses mostly occurred within living memory, from the 1950s onward. Today, except for a handful of farmers like the Scotts who have been able to keep or get back some land, black people in this most productive corner of the Deep South own almost nothing of the bounty under their feet.
II. “Land Hunger”
Land has always been the main battleground of racial conflict in Mississippi. During Reconstruction, fierce resistance from the planters who had dominated antebellum society effectively killed any promise of land or protection from the Freedmen’s Bureau, forcing masses of black laborers back into de facto bondage. But the sheer size of the black population—black people were a majority in Mississippi until the 1930s—meant that thousands were able to secure tenuous footholds as landowners between Emancipation and the Great Depression.
Driven by what W. E. B. Du Bois called “land hunger” among freedmen during Reconstruction, two generations of black workers squirreled away money and went after every available and affordable plot they could, no matter how marginal or hopeless. Some found sympathetic white landowners who would sell to them. Some squatted on unused land or acquired the few homesteads available to black people. Some followed visionary leaders to all-black utopian agrarian experiments, such as Mound Bayou, in Bolivar County.
It was never much, and it was never close to just, but by the early 20th century, black people had something to hold on to. In 1900, according to the historian James C. Cobb, black landowners in Tunica County outnumbered white ones three to one. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there were 25,000 black farm operators in 1910, an increase of almost 20 percent from 1900. Black farmland in Mississippi totaled 2.2 million acres in 1910—some 14 percent of all black-owned agricultural land in the country, and the most of any state.
The foothold was never secure. From the beginning, even the most enterprising black landowners found themselves fighting a war of attrition, often fraught with legal obstacles that made passing title to future generations difficult. Bohlen Lucas, one of the few black Democratic politicians in the Delta during Reconstruction (most black politicians at the time were Republicans), was born enslaved and managed to buy a 200-acre farm from his former overseer. But, like many farmers, who often have to borrow against expected harvests to pay for equipment, supplies, and the rent or mortgage on their land, Lucas depended on credit extended by powerful lenders. In his case, credit depended specifically on white patronage, given in exchange for his help voting out the Reconstruction government—after which his patrons abandoned him. He was left with 20 acres.
In Humphreys County, Lewis Spearman avoided the pitfalls of white patronage by buying less valuable wooded tracts and grazing cattle there as he moved into cotton. But when cotton crashed in the 1880s, Spearman, over his head in debt, crashed with it.
Around the turn of the century, in Leflore County, a black farm organizer and proponent of self-sufficiency—referred to as a “notoriously bad Negro” in the local newspapers—led a black populist awakening, marching defiantly and by some accounts bringing boycotts against white merchants. White farmers responded with a posse that may have killed as many as 100 black farmers and sharecroppers along with women and children. The fate of the “bad Negro” in question, named Oliver Cromwell, is uncertain. Some sources say he escaped to Jackson, and into anonymity.
Like so many of his forebears, Ed Scott Sr., Willena Scott-White’s grandfather, acquired his land through not much more than force of will. As recorded in the thick binders of family history that Willena had brought along in the truck, and that we flipped through between stretches of work in the fields, his life had attained the gloss of folklore. He was born in 1886 in western Alabama, a generation removed from bondage. Spurred by that same land hunger, Scott took his young family to the Delta, seeking opportunities to farm his own property. He sharecropped and rented, and managed large farms for white planters, who valued his ability to run their sprawling estates. One of these men was Palmer H. Brooks, who owned a 7,000-acre plantation in Mississippi’s Leflore and Sunflower Counties. Brooks was uncommonly progressive, encouraging entrepreneurship among the black laborers on his plantation, building schools and churches for them, and providing loans. Scott was ready when Brooks decided to sell plots to black laborers, and he bought his first 100 acres.
Unlike Bohlen Lucas, Scott largely avoided politics. Unlike Lewis Spearman, he paid his debts and kept some close white allies—a necessity, since he usually rejected government assistance. And unlike Oliver Cromwell, he led his community under the rules already in place, appearing content with what he’d earned for his family in an environment of total segregation. He leveraged technical skills and a talent for management to impress sympathetic white people and disarm hostile ones. “Granddaddy always had nice vehicles,” Scott-White told me. They were a trapping of pride in a life of toil. As was true in most rural areas at the time, a new truck was not just a flashy sign of prosperity but also a sort of credit score. Wearing starched dress shirts served the same purpose, elevating Scott in certain respects—always within limits—even above some white farmers who drove into town in dirty overalls. The trucks got shinier as his holdings grew. By the time Scott died, in 1957, he had amassed more than 1,000 acres of farmland.
Scott-White guided me right up to the Quiver River, where the legend of her family began. It was a choked, green-brown gurgle of a thing, the kind of lazy waterway that one imagines to be brimming with fat, yawning catfish and snakes. “Mr. Brooks sold all of the land on the east side of this river to black folks,” Scott-White told me. She swept her arm to encompass the endless acres. “All of these were once owned by black families.”
III. The Great Dispossession
That era of black ownership, in the Delta and throughout the country, was already fading by the time Scott died. As the historian Pete Daniel recounts, half a million black-owned farms across the country failed in the 25 years after 1950. Joe Brooks, the former president of the Emergency Land Fund, a group founded in 1972 to fight the problem of dispossession, has estimated that something on the order of 6 million acres was lost by black farmers from 1950 to 1969. That’s an average of 820 acres a day—an area the size of New York’s Central Park erased with each sunset. Black-owned cotton farms in the South almost completely disappeared, diminishing from 87,000 to just over 3,000 in the 1960s alone. According to the Census of Agriculture, the racial disparity in farm acreage increased in Mississippi from 1950 to 1964, when black farmers lost almost 800,000 acres of land. An analysis for The Atlantic by a research team that included Dania Francis, at the University of Massachusetts, and Darrick Hamilton, at Ohio State, translates this land loss into a financial loss—including both property and income—of $3.7 billion to $6.6 billion in today’s dollars.
This was a silent and devastating catastrophe, one created and maintained by federal policy. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal life raft for agriculture helped start the trend in 1937 with the establishment of the Farm Security Administration, an agency within the Department of Agriculture. Although the FSA ostensibly existed to help the country’s small farmers, as happened with much of the rest of the New Deal, white administrators often ignored or targeted poor black people—denying them loans and giving sharecropping work to white people. After Roosevelt’s death, in 1945, conservatives in Congress replaced the FSA with the Farmers Home Administration, or FmHA. The FmHA quickly transformed the FSA’s programs for small farmers, establishing the sinews of the loan-and-subsidy structure that undergirds American agriculture today. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy’s administration created the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, or ASCS, a complementary program to the FmHA that also provided loans to farmers. The ASCS was a federal effort—also within the Department of Agriculture—but, crucially, the members of committees doling out money and credit were elected locally, during a time when black people were prohibited from voting.
Through these programs, and through massive crop and surplus purchasing, the USDA became the safety net, price-setter, chief investor, and sole regulator for most of the farm economy in places like the Delta. The department could offer better loan terms to risky farmers than banks and other lenders, and mostly outcompeted private credit. In his book Dispossession, Daniel calls the setup “agrigovernment.” Land-grant universities pumped out both farm operators and the USDA agents who connected those operators to federal money. Large plantations ballooned into even larger industrial crop factories as small farms collapsed. The mega-farms held sway over agricultural policy, resulting in more money, at better interest rates, for the plantations themselves. At every level of agrigovernment, the leaders were white.Post Views: 2,761
Toveet Radcliffe Was the First African-American Woman to Die in the Israeli Military; Her Death Was Ruled a Suicide But Her Family Isn’t Buying ItBy Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
In America, we’ve become painfully used to the idea that to the police, the Jeff Sessions-led justice Department and, in many cases, the military, black lives don’t matter. Donald Trump’s handling of the death of Army Sgt. LaDavid Johnson; the White House’s silence on the killing of Army 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III by a white supremacist; the deafening silence about racism at the U.S. Air Force Academy, are just a few examples in the last year.
It is often worse for black women in the armed forces, who are victims of racial and sexual violence. Consider the case of LaVena Johnson, who, at 19 years old, was found dead of a gunshot wound in a tent in Balad, Iraq. Yet despite her body being found with a broken nose, a black eye, loose teeth and corrosive chemicals found on her genitals, the Army determined her death was a suicide. Where else in the world are black women’s bodies, even when dedicated to the protection of a nation, so degraded or devalued? Apparently, the Israeli government isn’t far behind America.
Feb. 21 will mark the three-year anniversary of 19-year-old Corporal Toveet Radcliffe’s death, the first African-American woman to die in the Israeli Defense Forces. Radcliffe was found dead at Palmachim Airbase just south of Tel Aviv, Israel, from a gunshot wound to the head. In early February, the IDF ruled that Radcliffe’s case will not be reopened. Investigators ruled that the gunshot that went through her forehead and came out the back was a result of an accidental or intentional suicide. However, Radcliffe’s family and members of the African Hebrew Israelite community aren’t so sure.
Toveet Radcliffe was born in Israel, to African-American parents who moved to there to practice as Hebrew Israelites, an Afrocentric form of Old Testament Judaism. She grew up happy and popular in the southern Israeli city of Dimona, where about 10 percent of the population are Hebrew Israelites, and she was known for her beauty and gregarious personality.
Despite being born in Israel, Radcliffe was not a practicing Hebrew Israelite nor was she an Israeli citizen. In fact, Hebrew Israelites are not automatically granted Israeli citizenship; the Israeli government had tried to kick them out of the country for years (part of a larger problem of the Israeli government discrimination against African and African-American Jews) until eventually granting them a tenuous residency status. Hebrew Israelites often live as second-class citizens, denied public education and state health care because their practice of Judaism isn’t “orthodox.”
Nevertheless, children can earn citizenship for themselves and their families can become eligible to apply for full citizenship after serving a tour in the armed forces. Radcliffe joined the military in October 2013 and died less than a year into her service—not from terrorists or criminals but from a bullet wound to the head while sitting in a guard booth.
She was found just after midnight, bleeding from a head wound, by the soldier that was to replace her on duty; she was declared dead by a military doctor less than half an hour later.
After almost three years of legal wrangling, Judge Major Meir Vigiser ruled it was “highly likely” that no other person was with Radcliffe when she was shot. Vigiser rejected several experts presented by the Radcliffe family suggesting foul play, instead placing the young woman’s death in her own hands.
About 30 members of the Hebrew Israelite community, all wearing white, sat in the courtroom for over an hour, listening as Judge Vigiser’s ruling. Radcliffe’s mother, Khydijah Gray, refused to attend the final hearing because she doubted that justice would come. While the verdict clearly disappointed the Radcliffe family and its supporters, it did not shock them.
“I am absolutely not surprised. I would have been surprised if they had done the right thing,” Shayarah Baht Yisrael said to The Root.
“I think the whole investigation was flawed from the beginning. And that alone is jail time, as far as I’m concerned. The fact that they tried to sweep it under the rug so quickly, I’m very, very frustrated by that,” added Ketreyah Fouch.
As supporters from the community trailed out of the Bar Lev Base, one young woman told The Root: “Toveet was too good to serve in the Israeli army, in general. Like all of us, we’re just too good to serve in this army.”
Hours after attending the court session, African Hebrew activist Ashriel Ben-Israel uploaded a video to Facebook calling the verdict “a big embarrassment”: “We do not accept it, this decision! We no longer believe any army representative regarding this case,” Ben-Israel bellowed in Hebrew, overcome with emotion. “We will not allow this decision to pass in silence,” he added.
Discrepancies in the IDF’s account of her death disturbed Radcliffe’s family and friends from the start. On January 18, 2016, nearly a year after the fatal incident, the IDF published the results of its internal investigation into Radliffe’s death—essentially suicide. At the most basic level, it is hard to believe that 5-foot, 2-inch Toveet Radcliffe managed to shoot herself through the forehead with an M4 (demonstrated below with a paper replica by her sister).
Given that the Israeli government offered to pay the Radcliffe family a lifelong stipend (for a solider who committed suicide), the questionable investigation (significant physical evidence was never examined), and the dismissal of key witnesses and testimony, Radcliffe’s family sought the truth. The Hebrew Israelite community raised funds for a legal appeal that bore fruit a year later. On March 17, 2017, the president of the IDF Court of Appeals, Major Gen. Doron Feiles, ordered a reinvestigation of Radcliffe’s death. In his decision, Feiles conceded that the IDF had not definitively demonstrated that Radcliffe had committed suicide and had not even bothered to seriously consider any other possible explanation for her death.
“It could be that the IDF felt that Toveet’s life wasn’t of value on the scale of social importance. Maybe in its opinion, she was just a girl from a black community in Dimona, just some unimportant girl,” the community leadership said the day after the Vigiser verdict in a press release. “Taking into account the apathy, arrogance and total lack of transparency on the part of the IDF, it must be seen as suspect No. 1.”
Radcliffe’s case had become a national story in Israel over the last few year; it was featured in several CSI/First-48 style TV investigative shows. Yet despite the historic nature of a black girl with African-American parents dying mysteriously in the IDF, it received little or no coverage in the United States. No major news stories, no #SayHerName hashtags. A Change.org petition to President Barack Obama in 2016 on her behalf couldn’t muster 1,000 signatures.
With the case officially over, members of the Hebrew Israelite community vow that they will continue the fight even if it’s unclear how that will occur. The Israeli government can delay, deny or possibly void the citizenship of community members who push back too hard. Furthermore, with little or no international attention or pressure, ala #BringBackOurGirls, there’s no reason to believe the conservative Benjamin Netanyahu government would even care. That doesn’t mean her case doesn’t matter, it only means that if black lives truly matter across the globe, we must add Toveet Radcliffe’s name to the sadly growing list of black people betrayed, abandoned and possibly killed by their governments.
By Elliot Booker — 5 years agoBy David Love: August 16, 2016Finally, the U.S. will have a memorial to lynching, the dreaded, horrific and quintessentially American institution rooted in racial violence and terrorism. The Equal Justice Initiative, the Montgomery, Alabama-based legal rights organization, will unveil the project today. As The New York Times reported, the memorial to the thousands of lynchings that took place in the U.S. will rest on six acres in the first capital of the Confederacy, on land that was once public housing.
The organization will also announce plans to open a museum called “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration” in its 11,000-square-foot headquarters in April 2017. Located in a former slave warehouse, the museum will chronicle the nation’s racial history from the days of slavery to mass incarceration, and like the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, to grapple with our legacy of racism and understand the connection to the present.
“Our goal isn’t to be divisive,” Bryan Stevenson, the director of the Equal Justice Initiative, told the Times. “Our goal is just to get people to confront the truth of our past with some more courage.”
In 2013, Stevenson’s group placed markers throughout Montgomery detailing the city’s history as a slave market. As The New Yorker reported, while the city had dozens of cast-iron markers referencing its Confederate history, there were none to indicate the presence of the slave trade. And last year, the group released a report called “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror.” The report documents 4,075 lynchings of Black people that took place in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia between 1877 and 1950.
The report discovered several hundred more lynchings than were previously known, and that many of the victims had not been accused of a crime. Rather, “racial terror lynching” was designed to maintain the racial control of Jim Crow segregation by victimizing the entire Black community. Moreover, they were celebratory affairs and horrific “public spectacles” in which the entire white community attended, and no one was held accountable. Lynching was a major impetus leading to the forced migration of millions of African-Americans to the North, and yet there is little effort to address what took place.
According to the report, these lynchings were acts of terrorism “because the murders were carried out with impunity, sometimes in broad daylight, often ‘on the courthouse lawn.’ ” As opposed to so-called “frontier justice,” these killings took place in communities with a viable criminal justice system regarded as “too good for African Americans,” according to the report:
“Large crowds of white people, often numbering in the thousands and including elected officials and prominent citizens, gathered to witness pre-planned, heinous killings that featured prolonged torture, mutilation, dismemberment, and/or burning of the victim. White press justified and promoted these carnival like events, with vendors selling food, printers producing postcards featuring photographs of the lynching and corpse, and the victim’s body parts collected as souvenirs. These killings were bold, public acts that implicated the entire community and sent a message that African Americans were sub-human, their subjugation was to be achieved through any means necessary, and whites who carried out lynchings would face no legal repercussions.”
“In America, we’re not free. We are burdened by a history of racial inequality and injustice. It compromises us. It constrains us,” Stevenson told Co.Exist. “We have to create a new relationship with this history.”
“It’s a place that will be beautiful. It’s a place,” Stevenson added, “that will tell a hard but a necessary story.”
The memorial will have a large, four-sided gallery of 801 suspended six-foot columns, according to The New York Times, each representing a county where a person or people were lynched, with an etching of their names.
This past February at a TED conference in Vancouver, memorial designer Michael Murphy gave a preview of the project.
“Countries like Germany and South Africa and Rwanda have found it necessary to build memorials to reflect on the atrocities of their past in order to heal their national psyche,” Murphy said, as reported by Citylab. “We have yet to do this in the United States.”
In Rwanda there is a healing process known as ubudehe, which means “community works for the community,” according to Murphy. The plan for the memorial is to collect soil from each lynching site and place the soil in each column of the memorial, as if to finally put the victims to rest — an act of “spiritual healing” and “restorative justice,” as he told Citylab.
At a time when the public is gaining awareness of the present-day killing of Black people through racial violence, it is time to also remember the names of those countless victims of lynching throughout America’s past. We must do this if we want true justice.