A network for the memory: more than a hundred places to help us remember the dramatic years of the Afro-American struggle for civil rights. At a time when those very rights would appear to be under threat once more, 14 States, mostly in the country’s “Deep South,” have created the Civil Rights Trail, an itinerary which passes through the cities and landmarks that shaped the civil rights movement: museums, churches, schools, bars, bridges and motels.
The Trail represents a sort of new movement, both civil and cultural, created 50 years after the death of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with the aim of speaking the truth and holding the United States of America accountable for its past.
The Peace and Freedom Memorial, which was recently inaugurated in Montgomery, Alabama, is a case in point. It is dedicated to the 5,000 victims of lynching, and is helping to break the taboos surrounding the horrific crimes committed in the name of racial superiority.
The Civil Rights Trail is also a brave initiative to let the world know that this beautiful and strong-willed region, which was once the heart of the Confederacy, is ready for redemption and to reclaim its identity.
Many American tourists traveling along the Trail (which goes through Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina) describe the experience as “shocking” or “exotic,” as if they were visiting a foreign country for the first time.
And the Trail isn’t only about the past: many of the old issues still affect the country, from the denial of voting rights in the case of several minorities to the students’ battle to tear down Confederate statues; from the indiscriminate police violence against black people to the mobilization of young African Americans in the South during the last midterm elections.
( 2018 )