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Alabama lynching memorial expands to cover the stories of 2,000 more people

The first monument in the United States honoring the victims of lynching has become a must-see civil rights attraction in Montgomery, Alabama, and now it’s been expanded.

The Equal Justice Initiative opened its new Legacy Pavilion on Saturday — just in time to welcome visitors to the Alabama state capitol for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend.

The Legacy Pavilion features a new memorial recognizing more than 2,000 men, women and children who were lynched immediately after the Civil War and during Reconstruction.

It includes exhibits honoring civil rights heroes, including King, Claudette Colvin, John Lewis, Rosa Parks, Jonathan Daniels, Jo Ann Robinson, and E.D. Nixon, according to the Equal Justice Initiative’s website.

The exhibits will tell the story of Montgomery’s role in the civil rights movement.

The building is also the new ticket office, welcome center and gift shop for the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. It includes a soul food restaurant run by two award-winning Alabama chefs.

“We’re excited to add a wonderful new space to our memorial and museum that will provide more convenience, comfort, and food to the thousands of people who continue to visit the sites,” the Equal Justice Initiative said in a statement.

The Equal Justice Initiative is a nonprofit group dedicated to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment, challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights.

In 2018 it opened the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration after spending years investigating and documenting thousands of racially motivated lynchings in the American South. The Peace and Justice Memorial Center opened in 2019.

More than 650,000 people have visited the sites since they opened.

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