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We can't move on from Jim Crow without acknowledging thousands of lynching victims

We can't move on from Jim Crow without acknowledging thousands of lynching victims
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala., makes note of each U.S. county where documented lynchings took place. (Fred Hiatt / Washington Post)

To the editor: Thank you for shining a light on the effort of Bryan Stevenson and his Equal Justice Initiative to memorialize the more than 4,000 victims of lynching in this country. ("New lynching memorial in Alabama offers chance to remember and heal," April 21)

In talks across the country, Stevenson points out that unlike countries such as Germany, South Africa and Rwanda, the United States has never directly confronted the tragic legacy of slavery and the subsequent decades of racial injustice perpetrated on our black community. We seem to have the attitude that those days are over and done with, so let's move on.

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But only by confronting and acknowledging the gross injustice done to blacks in this country, and expressing sincere and heartfelt regret for it, can we as a country truly move past this horrible chapter in our history.

I did not personally participate in these crimes, but as a white American, I feel the burden of history and feel strongly the need to acknowledge and apologize for the crimes of my race.

Sharon Blain, Aliso Viejo

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To the editor: As abhorrent as I find lynchings of black men and women in this country, I also want to remind readers of the single mass lynching in Los Angeles' history.

In 1871, at least 17 Chinese males, some of them just boys, were hanged off a street ironically named Calle de los Negros, or "Negro Alley." Sadly, the people who were charged and sentenced for these crimes had their convictions overturned on a legal technicality.

I hope the National Memorial for Peace and Justice will include these equally abhorrent lynchings.

Al Chin, Lake Forest

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To the editor: Unexpectedly finding a stolpersteine ("stumbling stone") memorial for my great-grandmother, a Holocaust victim, in her home town of Gotha, Germany, was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.

It meant that someone, if only a city official reviewing records of local Jews murdered in the Holocaust, had taken note of her life and death. Its presence offered me a token of recognition and apology for the immense evil responsible for her death.

Congratulations to the Equal Justice Initiative on the opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a monument to the more than 4,400 African Americans murdered by lynching. I urge each of the 805 counties in which lynchings occurred to claim and display the memorials planned for local use.

More importantly, I hope that current and future generations of African Americans find the same sense of admission of wrong and atonement for the racism that precipitated these deaths that I find in the placement of stolpersteine throughout Germany.

Rachel Rubin Green, Los Angeles

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