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Slavery has indeed marked this nation. Its soot leaves a residue the best detergent cannot wipe away or wash out. Truth – bitter, the missing ingredient is hard to swallow, let alone see – yet this is what The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and by extension The Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration demands we face. It is not in your head or imagination that these atrocities to other people reside.
Even though many whites thought of him as the father of the “lost cause,” Jefferson Davis was for most African-Americans what racism symbolizes. From the end of slavery, recently freed ex-slaves felt the same way about him. Ex-slave Dilly Yellandy remembers, “Old Jeff Davis said he wus goin’ to fight de Yankees till hell wus so full of em dat their legs us hangin’ over de sides.” Slaves like Mr. Yellandy had heard about Jeff Davis, all right. They had heard about how he tried to run away and hide in a hole, like a fox, and how he tried to escape by wearing his wife’s dress.