Taking the Reparatory Turn at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice
This article suggests that communication scholars take the reparatory turn in critical public memory studies. Using a case study based on the reparatory efforts of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), we critique the affective materialization taking place at Montgomery’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice (NMPJ) in Montgomery, Alabama. We argue that the NMPJ invites visitors to experience both the magnitude of historical lynchings as well as the affective afterlife of racial terrorist pasts that are linked to those historical lynchings. Consistent with the EJI’s goals, the NMPJ’s reparatory rhetorics are aimed at revising lynching histories in race-conscious ways so that visitors from some of America’s 800 counties might acknowledge, apologize, or even consider paying reparations for past lynchings as well as present carceral injustices.