You stand in line, waiting to go through the metal detector, feeling the warmth of the late Southern spring day, sun shining on the green grass in the distance and, above, deep blue sky. Colleagues stand nearby; you are visiting the Equal Justice Initiative’s Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, known vernacularly as the “Lynching Memorial,” and the affiliated Legacy Museum, as part of a field site visit for the Ethnography Division at the Southern States Communication Association’s annual convention. The memorial starts with a history lesson via signage on the South’s defeat in the U.S. Civil War, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the “bitter resistance to racial equality,”1 and—the memorial’s main claim—that “continued support for white supremacy and racial hierarchy meant that slavery in America did not end—it evolved.”2

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“Montgomery, a city shaped by slavery.”3

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The first...

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