Delegation of Palestinian Lawyers, Human Rights Activists, and Artists Travel to Montgomery, Alabama for Opening of National Memorial to Reckon with History of Lynching and Slavery
A delegation of Palestinian lawyers, human rights activists, and artists is traveling to Montgomery, AL this week to witness and celebrate the opening of the Equal Justice Initiative’s (EJI) Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The delegation includes representatives from the Adalah Justice Project, Adalah-The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Palestine Legal, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as individual organizers and artists.
We, the delegates, recognize EJI’s leadership in conceptualizing and building monuments that impel a national reckoning with the history of violence inflicted on Black people. That violence was initially carried out in the forced enslavement and lynching of Black people, and has evolved into the current phenomena of mass incarceration and poverty in the Black community.
We recognize the racial terror inflicted on Black Americans as an intentional crime against humanity. This memorial and museum open a window into the past and present injustices endured by Black Americans. It gives hope that we can, as a society, move towards collective historical truth, and thus, be better positioned to achieve justice.
This year, as Palestinians commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, the beginning of our dispossession from our land, a process that continues to this day, we take inspiration from the opening of the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. We celebrate this opening as step towards justice not only for the Black community, but for all those who struggle for freedom and true equality in the face of systemic oppression.
As we attend, learn from and examine parallels with our own struggle at this momentous event, we will also share our own experiences of overcoming obstacles to reclaim our history. On Saturday, April 26, representatives from EJI, Adalah and Palestine Legal, along with Dr. Deidra Suwanee Dees of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Southern Alabama, will hold a forum: Reclaiming History: A Workshop on the Pursuit of Historical Justice From Palestine to Alabama. We believe that by connecting our struggles for freedom, justice and equality, we build power and move ever closer to collective liberation.
Soheir Asaad, Legal researcher at Adalah -The Legal Center Arab Minority Rights in Israel, “In this powerful example of reclaiming history, I see the spirit of the young protesters in the Gaza Strip who in the last few weeks have faced bullets for demanding their right of return to the villages they were expelled from by Israel in 1948. For Palestinians and for oppressed communities in the US and around the world, past injustices are not an event, but rather a lived reality and a continuous suffering. True change can only come when these historic injustices are recognized, named and confronted.”
Nadia Ben-Youssef, Director of Adalah Justice Project. “EJI’s long commitment to exposing the root of injustice against Black people in this country advances the cause of justice everywhere. In this global movement for human rights and human dignity, it is clear that only through our collective reckoning with the past can we transform society towards one in which all people are equal and free. It is an honor to work with, learn from, and struggle together.”
Amira Fatima, Southern Regional Organizer of Jewish Voice for Peace. “As a Palestinian and as a Southerner, I deeply admire the work EJI is doing to expose the legacy of collective violence that is slavery and mass incarceration. As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of our ethnic cleansing that continues until today, we know the vast importance of exposing these injustices in order to fight for a better future. We stand in solidarity against the oppression faced by Black Americans today, including police brutality and mass incarceration. Only when we face the past will we be able to envision a just world to come.”
Dima Khalidi, Director of Palestine Legal, “EJI’s project of resurrecting a buried history and showing its present day manifestations resonates deeply as we work every day to ensure that people of conscience here can speak freely about the Palestinian experience. Without such truth-telling, we cannot begin to talk of freedom, justice and equality, here or in Palestine.”
Ismail Khalidi, Playwright. “EJI’s vision is much needed to help us understand the profound violence still at the core of the American project. As Palestinians resisting a US-backed apartheid regime, we stand in solidarity with and seek to learn from the long struggles of Black Americans, and to work together to expose historical and present-day injustices worldwide.”
Yousef Munayyer, of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, who stated “It is a privilege to be able to be here in Montgomery to bear witness to the unveiling of this important initiative which offers a much needed corrective in the conversation around race, inequality and human rights. As a Palestinian and as an American, I know well that one of the key struggles facing oppressed peoples is in educating others about the truth of your history and how it has created the injustice of your present. EJI has done a service that will benefit generations.”
Sandra Tamari, Director of Strategic Partnerships with the Adalah Justice Project and a human rights activist, “As a Palestinian, I understand that true peace must be based in historical justice. The memorial to lynching victims is forcing Americans to wrestle with this country’s past and understand how this history is directly connected to mass incarceration, killings by the police and the everyday racism Black Americans face. We can’t understand how to move forward until we acknowledge why we are here. ”
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Adalah Justice Project
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