After decades of research, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) released a 2015 report documenting over 4,000 instances of lynching of African Americans in 12 Southern states between 1877 and 1950. A 2017 follow-up report detailed an additional 300-plus racial terror lynchings in eight states in the North and Midwest during that same period. The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America, which will run at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery from Oct. 26 through Dec. 16, seeks to spark an honest conversation about the legacy of racial injustice in America today by presenting EJI’s groundbreaking research alongside complementary digital media, documentary film, contemporary artworks, and archival materials.
Lynching, which emerged after slavery was officially abolished in the United States in 1865 as a violent means of exerting racial control, continued through the 20th century as a way to fortify white supremacy and suppress African-American civil rights. Its after-effects live on to this day in mass incarceration and the disproportionate sentencing of people of color. Last year the Brooklyn Museum, in collaboration with EJI and with support from Google, organized an exhibition, The Legacy of Lynching, to confront this history by juxtaposing audio-visual presentations of EJI’s research findings with art drawn from the museum’s collection. The exhibition included artists whose practices respond to racism in the United States and focused on personal stories, not explicit photographs or other representations of racial violence, to illustrate America’s long history of racial terror.
This fall, The Legacy of Lynching traveling exhibition will be on view for the first time outside of Brooklyn and will feature new, original curatorial contributions from Kalia Brooks Nelson. In addition to the exhibit’s traveling materials, the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery run of The Legacy of Lynching includes works by Josh Begley, Alexandra Bell, Sonya Clark, Ken Gonzales-Day, Ayana V Jackson, Titus Kaphar, Glenn Ligon, Lorna Simpson, Hank Willis Thomas, and more, as well as archival materials drawn from the College’s Quaker and Special Collections, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Special Collections and University Archive.
The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America will be on view Oct. 26 through Dec. 16 at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. A reception will celebrate the exhibit’s opening on Oct. 26, from 4:30–7:30 p.m. On Nov. 16, there will be a related one-day symposium with the curator, artists and activists from across the country, faculty members from Haverford College and other institutions, and student groups. For further details: exhibits.haverford.edu/thelegacyoflynching.
The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America is organized by the Brooklyn Museum and the Equal Justice Initiative. Support for its presentation at Haverford is provided by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities.