A couple of weeks ago, I visited the Legacy Museum with a group I’ve been a part of called Infusion. As a group that strives to disband racism, we have had quite a few trips and meetings discussing the histories of different cultures, timelines of major historical events, and the history of slavery and racism. Once I entered the Legacy Museum, I quickly learned that while discussing the topic of racial discrimination opened my eyes; visually seeing the effects of it first hand at the Legacy Museum was shocking, to say the least. The tour through the museum impacted me profoundly and made me feel shame over the wrongs done by people that share my ancestral past. Listening and reading the stories of the countless victims that were pictured in the museum have moved and inspired me to create a change in our society. I am determined to help any and all people who experience any injustice such as those in the museum.
On the walls, there are moving quotes and videos sharing the tragic history of the warehouses and the slave trades that occurred in Montgomery. On another wall, there is a timeline that exhibits the events that have led up to our modern day society. It shares the age of lynchings, to segregation, to the hateful crimes that were committed towards those of color, to the protesting of equal rights, and to our now modern day setting of mass incarceration.
In a section of the Museum, there is an open room staged to replicate a prison environment with four telephone booths. When you sit on the visitor side of it, you can hear the people in prison telling their story of how they were mistreated by the law. One story of a woman affected me deeply. She told me how an officer of the law, meant to protect all citizens, sexually assaulted her and impregnated her. I knew incidents like these happen but I never truly thought about it until then. This woman, along with others in the booth, was helped by the organization E.J.I. (Equal Justice Initiative) and was brought to justice.
My overall experience at the Legacy Museum was moving. I knew only some of the history that occurred in Montgomery, but not as much as I thought. The museum opened my eyes and showed me a small picture of those who are still being discriminated against to this day. I was, and still am, empowered to help continue the change for equal rights and fair justice given to all people. After my short time in the Legacy Museum, I am determined to be a part of the hopeful generation that will never again let incidents such as those that occurred in the Legacy Museum happen again.
I encourage others to visit the Legacy Museum and be moved to help others as I am.
-Riley Mullen, age 15