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Lewis Museum, Maryland Lynching Memorial Project to develop first statewide monument to lynching in the US

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture and the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project (MLMP) today announced an agreement to partner on the conceptualization and design of an exhibition to honor the memory of Maryland victims of racialized terror.

Planning and construction on the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project at the Lewis Museum is estimated to take 18 months with the design process for the project slated to launch this fall. A memorial to the victims will also be erected on the museum’s grounds.

The project is all part of a broader set of facilities improvements planned for the permanent exhibition. The capital campaign will officially be launched later this year and completed in time for the celebration of the Lewis Museum’s 20th anniversary in June of 2025.

The permanent exhibit and memorial will work to both educate visitors about unjust acts of vigilante justice and honor the memories of those lost to this horrific violence. It will also bring light to the fact that modern day acts of racial violence and terror continue. The memorial will be the only state-wide remembrance of its kind in the country to date.

In April, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. announced a $650,000 federal investment in the curation of the state’s first exhibition addressing Maryland’s difficult history of lynching. The museum’s plans are in direct response to a proposal from the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project, a nonprofit organization that has worked to uncover the truth about extrajudicial  incidents of lynching throughout the state. MLMP’s research played a significant role in Gov. Larry Hogan’s posthumous pardoning of 34 victims lynched between 1854 and 1933.

It also advocated for the creation of the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission which entered into statute with passage of House Bill 307 in 2019 and is the only such commission in the United States.

The Lewis Museum and MLMP are committed to working closely with Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission, families of lynching victims, community members, and local advocates in counties across the state in the development of the memorial and exhibition.

The exhibition will chronicle the use of lynching as a tactic of intimidation, illuminate the human lives and the faces behind the names of the victims, move toward reconciliation by providing this information, and encourage visitors and others to continue the pursuit of repairing the breach left in African American communities by this type of violence, often sanctioned by the state.