The South

The Memorial for Peace and Justice (National lynching memorial) Montgomery, Alabama

Yesterday I learnt about a proposed memorial, where the more than 4,000 Black Americans who were lynched in the United States, from 1877 to 1950 will be remembered in a striking space that will represent the bodies of those murdered, but also the horror of the experience, via the claustrophobic, disorienting display. Watch the video to see what I'm trying to express here, it's extremely powerful.

I was particularly moved by the idea of having duplicates of the stones in a 'temporary' graveyard beside the memorial that, it is hoped, will be emptied as the various counties place the marker in the site where the lynching took place. As you will see from the video, it is as if the stones are taken up into the heavens and somehow given release.

Here is some information on the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), based in Montgomery Alabama that provides legal services, advice and also conducts research. The description of the organisation reads: Racial Justice; Children in Prisons; Mass Incarceration; Death Penalty and Just Mercy (the book by Bryan Stevenson, EJI founder and executive director, a book that Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu said was 'as if America's soul has been put on trial').   

And have a look at this recent interview on CBS with Stevenson where Stevenson likens the mass lynchings across the South as a form of terrorism that is frequently overlooked within the standard histories of the era. This violence, he says, was a key driver behind The Great Migration, where 5 million Black Americans left the South between 1915-1960. People were often fleeing, scared for their lives.   

Here is some more information on the project that will include a museum; you can donate to the Memorial for Peace and Justice via the EJI website.

Merlin Coverley's new book 'South' (Oldcastle Books)

Thanks to London author, Merlin Coverley for sending me a copy of his new book, South that offers an expansive survey at all things southern, or to be more accurate describes how the South has been perceived over the centuries; as the notes state 'from the beaches of Tahiti to the streets of Buenos Aires, from Naples to New Orleans ...' (and also makes use of my essay on Borges).   

Coverley is an interesting writer, who has, among his previously published works (on London, the occult and utopias ...) written on the Situationists' notion of psychogeography. (Coverley's book on the subject was published in 2006). Guy Debord defined the idea in 1955 as 'the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.' 

While this book is literary in tone, slicing together secondary sources/texts and readings, a spirit of discovery - of wayward wandering - can be felt within it that reflects the author's key interests and may also be why my favourite part was the most personal, when Coverley maps out south London, his home of many years.

Once again, I'd like to thank Coverley for sharing his work with me. It was a nice lift to see my name in the index, beside 'Byron, Lord ...' (even if my resident 10 year-old cynic reminded me that 'not many people read the index, mum'; can't argue with that, I guess).