“EJI worked together with Google to create a map and an interactive journey into America’s past. It’s painful, and it’s powerful.”

-Trevor Noah

 
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Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based civil rights nonprofit, believes that in order to become a more just nation, we must face America’s history of racial violence. Google is committed to leveraging data to fight inequities, so we collaborated with EJI on an interactive experience that brings their unprecedented research on the history of lynching in America to a wide audience.

EJI documented the lynchings of over 4,000 African Americans in the United States. Together, we created an online experience that brings this research to life through interactive maps, audio photo essays, a short documentary, and curriculum for students.

We then brought this critical narrative into the real world. We collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum on an exhibit titled “Legacy of Lynching,” pairing our digital content with iconic artwork from the museum’s collection. We also partnered with Andra Day to cover Billie Holiday’s iconic protest song, “Strange Fruit,” connecting a new generation to its relevance. A social campaign, including Bryan Stevenson and Andra’s appearance on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” helped spread the word, and a Google Doodle honoring the anti-lynching Silent Parade exposed a broad audience to EJI’s critical message. As Bryan Stevenson says, “This is American history. We have to know it, and we have to talk about it.”

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THE sitE

Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror brings EJI’s groundbreaking research into the digital space to show how the effects of racial terror lynchings are still felt today. Interactive maps show the scope of racial terror lynchings by county and how the Great Migration forever altered our nation’s demographics. Audio photo essays featuring the descendents of lynching victims reveal the ongoing impact of this history today. Finally, a short documentary follows the Dedman-Miles family as they return South for the first time since their grandfather’s lynching 100 years ago.

 
 

ANTHONY RAY HINTON AUDIO STORY

Anthony Ray Hinton reflects on his journey from Alabama’s death row to life as a free man. Mr. Hinton’s story is an example of how the legacy of lynching has evolved into today’s system of mass incarceration.

 

VANESSA CROFT AUDIO STORY

Vanessa Croft remembers her uncle, Fred Croft, who fled the South in the 1930s after a near-lynching. Her story reveals how racial terrorism lead to the Great Migration, forever changing the demographics of America.

 

"uprooted" documentary

Thomas Miles Sr., a black business owner, was lynched by a mob of white people in 1912 in Shreveport, Louisiana, for allegedly passing a note to a white woman. Fearing for their own lives, his family fled the South, leaving everything behind—even changing the spelling of their last name from Miles to Myles. Uprooted follows the Myles family as they travel from California to Louisiana for the first time since their grandfather was lynched, seeking answers about a place, and a man, that they never truly knew.

 

Social

Our social campaign included a series of trailers that promoted the site, the individual stories, and the documentary. These trailers were shared by a wide range of influencers from Ryan Gosling to the NAACP.

 

Brooklyn museum

The Brooklyn Museum leveraged our work to form the basis of an exhibit, The Legacy of Lynching, open from July 26 to October 8. This groundbreaking exhibit combines the digitized data and oral histories from the online platform, with fine art pieces from the Brooklyn Museum’s collections (including artists like Glenn Ligon, Sanford Biggers, and Kara Walker).

 

"strange fruit" cover

We partnered with Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Andra Day to cover Billie Holiday’s anti-lynching song, “Strange Fruit”. A music video connected the song’s message to the stories shared by the victims. Andra Day also performed the song in front of tens of thousands of people at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park.

 

"the daily show" appearance

Bryan Stevenson and Andra Day appeared on  “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” to discuss the project and its importance.

 

Google Doodle

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July 28, 1917, marked one of the first mass protests of lynching and anti-black violence in the United States as nearly 10,000 African Americans marched in silence down New York’s Fifth Avenue in what came to be known as the Silent Parade. To mark the 100th anniversary of this historic event, we created a Google Doodle that linked to the Lynching in America site, thereby bringing EJI’s narrative to the Google homepage.

 

school curriculum

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We worked with educators to develop online curriculum for junior high students that ensures this conversation continues in schools across the country.

 

Press

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"To listen to disturbing testimonials and see emotionally freighted imagery is to learn how lynching was used as tool of racial control – and understand how it set a precedent for the current epidemic of police brutality and mass incarceration."

"This exhibit addresses racial persecution and inherited trauma with a directness that demands an honest reckoning with – especially from its white visitors."

 
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“‘Lynching In America’ Maps The Nation's Dark Past With Racial Violence”

“Andra Day's Cover Of ‘Strange Fruit’ Is A Necessary Listen In Today's Political Climate...The powerful video displays images of southern landscapes spliced with shots of a singing Day with flowers in her hair, an obvious nod to Holiday. By the end of the video, it is clear the shots of these seemingly peaceful places were the locations where actual lynchings took place.”

 
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"Each of us must confront these truths. It’s emotional, heartbreaking and infuriating. Acknowledgement of the atrocities paired with candid, civil discourse can begin to turn the tides of negativity that appear to be drowning us."

“More than 4000 people were lynched. 4000 people. Most in a few confined areas of the South. Let that sink in. Individuals whose names we did not know were ruthlessly murdered with impunity. Families devastated. Heinous crimes concealed...Through the great work of the EJI and Google we learn the names of these individual and in many cases we study their stories.”

 
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“America's lynching history is now online”

 

“Google Launches ‘Lynching In America’ Project Exploring Country’s Violent Racial History…The project gives a comprehensive look at the impact of lynching on generations of black families.”

 
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“It's easy to see the origins of the persisting issue of police brutality and discrimination against racial minorities...The connections between police brutality and America's history of lynching has long been a subject civil rights activists have tried to bring to the public's attention. The number of unarmed black Americans killed by police officers are not too far off from the numbers seen on Lynching in America's interactive map.”

 

“The project emphasizes the connection of lynchings to present-day America—particularly the criminal-justice system.”

 
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“Andra Day's cover of this iconic 1930s protest song is exactly what 2017 needs. The first time you hear the song "Strange Fruit," the air gets sucked out of the room.”

“...the song [Strange Fruit] manages to take your breath away largely because nearly 80 years after it was written, in the wake of police violence against black and brown people, it still feels as relevant as ever.”