“There can be no reconciliation and healing without remembering the past.”
In 1940 the people of Coventry suffered one of the worst bombings of the Second World War and at the same time a 16-year-old African-American boy was shot and left for dead by a band of masked white men in isolated woodland outside the town of LaGrange, Georgia. Throughout Black History Month we come together in empathy and solidarity with the black community inspired by the synchronicity of these two events.
The Equal Justice Initiative Community Remembrance Project acknowledges the legacy of lynchings in America through the collection of soil at the sites of racial violence. Whilst on a road trip through the southern states, artist and photographer Richard Ansett was invited by the LaGrange community to document the collection of soil by the direct descendants Frances Callaway and Walter Dowell from the site of Austin Callaway's murder to be donated to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.
In facing difficult truths together and accepting the part they continue to play in our present we make visible these hidden wounds that are barriers to progress. By recognising first the inherited trauma of the black community whilst examining the legacy of the white community as heirs of the perpetrators and bystanders there is hope for progress towards healing and reconciliation.
Coventry Cathedral offers a safe space for the contemplation of the legacy of racial violence and injustice on us all.