When you first see the steel posts with kudzu curling around them like a nest of fat green and brown cobras, it’s easy to be a little bit confused. What IS this?
It’s a 100-foot bridge in rural Mississippi, balanced above muddy waters infested with crappie fish and maybe a few perch if you’re lucky. Scribbled on one of the posts is “Danger, This Is You.” What is the danger? Who is the “you?”
The danger is to Black people. Our men, women, and children were lynched from that bridge, earning it the name “Hanging Bridge.” “You” is for anyone who testified against white terrorists who hunted down our people. And there’s something else.
Our people, tired of being terrorized by white murderers, stopped accepting the bodies of their dead. They simply refused to bury the victims from Hanging Bridge. White officials were now responsible for burying those they had murdered. They had to face their deeds using their own resources.
Yet there’s another issue.
Lynching can often be hidden away because the sites can be cut down or covered by other buildings. But Hanging Bridge still bears witness to the strength of our people who could not afford to explicitly fight back.
We must continue to take inspiration from their painful pushback, even down to the smallest action.