Part of lynching’s grotesque culture was when white people took “artifacts” — body parts, rope, photos — from lynch sites.
But there was one artifact they left behind.
Soil. Generations of our people’s blood, sweat, tears, and forgotten last words are buried within America’s soil.
And now their truths are being unearthed.
The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI)has documented roughly 6,500 lynchings occurring between 1865 and 1950. They’ve created public markers, collected soil samples from lynch sites, and designed The National Memorial for Peace and Justice.
Whenever lynch sites are discovered EJI volunteers or the victim’s relatives take soil samples — like the Bolling family did.
Josephine Bolling hadn’t told her children about her father's lynching — she herself only recently discovered the real reason behind his murder! His killers lied, claiming he was murdered for insulting a white woman.
But after extensive research Bolling discovered he’d been lynched for being a successful businessman!
To this day Bolling dreams about the father she didn’t get to know. She and her children collected soil from where Elmore Bolling was lynched — at least Bolling knows her father can finally rest.
We must never forget the struggle and sacrifice it took to get us here. How can we create sacred space, outside of the white gaze, so our ancestors can rest and we can heal?
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