“EJI worked together with Google to create a map and an interactive journey into America’s past. It’s painful, and it’s powerful.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We worked with educators to develop online curriculum for junior high students that ensures this conversation continues in schools across the country.