More than 4,000 African-Americans were lynched in the U.S. between 1877 and 1950. Now, Google and the Equal Justice Initiative are shedding light on America's dark past.

Veronica Hilbring
Jun, 13, 2017

With support from Google, the Equal Justice Initiative is bringing the groundbreaking research on America’s lynching past online.

The interactive site, Lynching in America, is the brainchild of EJI,  founded by Bryan Stevenson. The Equal Justice Initiative is a nonprofit company challenging racial injustice inside and outside the courtroom. Based on EJI’s 80-page published report, Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, this site combines research, data with the stories of lynching victims as told by their descendants.  This site allows visitors to explore an interactive map that features incidents of lynching and racial terror. It also explores the victims behind these acts of violence.

“Google has been able to take what we know about lynching, and what we have heard from the families, and what we have seen in the spaces and the communities where these acts of terror took place, and make that knowledge accessible to a lot more people. To create a platform for hearing and understanding and seeing this world that we’ve lived through," EJI founder Bryan Stevenson said in a press release about the project.

One such family featured was that of Shirah Dedman. At the age of 32, Shirah was finally able to trace her family tree and learned the true story of her great-grandfather, Thomas Miles.  A Black business owner, Miles was lynched in Shreveport, LA in 1912 for allegedly passing a note to a White woman. His story wouldn’t come to light for several decades.

This new project is the company’s second project with Google. In 2015, Google granted EJI with $1 million to help fund the From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration Museum and its Memorial to Peace and Justice. This is only the beginning of several projects for EJI. With Google’s continued support, the National Memorial to Lynching Victims will open in Montgomery, AL in 2018.

“I don't think we can create a generation of people in this country who are truly free, who are unburdened by this legacy and this history of racial terror, until we do the hard work of truth-telling," Stevenson said.