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It’s not just the pictures that are so disturbing about the lynching exhibit “Without Sanctuary.” It’s the inscriptions. Those little captions we write in our Facebook photos for our friends. Those cute phrases we use to sum up our experiences, to capture the moment, to cherish a memory.

In “Without Sanctuary,” a lynching photography exhibit on display at the Levine Museum of the New South, words are worth a thousand words. To be sure the photos, mostly postcards, of black bodies swinging from southern trees, bridges, light posts and anything else high enough to hang someone are disturbing. They are grotesque, and shameful reminders of the genocide we commonly refer to as Jim Crow.  The photos are too painful to look at very long. I tried to escape the horribly imagery by reading the inscriptions, but the words drew me deeper into the inhumanity of it all.

There are photos like the one of Allen Brooks’ corpse hanging from an arch in Texas with the inscription: “All OK and would like to get a post from you. Bill, This was some Raw Bunch.”

Or the photo of corpses of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith which says  “Bo pointn to his niga.”

The captions reminded me that to these types of people watching someone being lynched was akin to watching a sporting event – it was entertainment for the entire family.

These black men, women and children were killed for everything from disobeying arbitrary norms such as not knowing their place to criminal accusations such as murder. These victims seldom lived long enough to face a trial. The lynch mobs were judge, jury and executioner.

“Without Sanctuary” is not only a sad reminder of America’s past, but in some ways it reflects America,  especially Black America, today. Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have replaced postcards. The means by which people display their callousness have changed, but the disregard for human life has not.

During the Jim Crow some white people disregarded the value of a black life. Today, too many of our black youth and adults do the same. In Charlotte, we’re still reeling from the senseless killing of Kydaryune “K.C.” Curry.  The 17-year-old was murdered because he disrespected another teen.  In Pennyslvania, six teen girls face charges for stomping and beating a disabled woman. The suspects even recorded the beating and posted it on Facebook – today’s version of the lynching postcards.

Without Sanctuary will be on display at the Levine until Dec. 31. The Levine partnered with other organizations to create programming around the exhibit. UNC Charlotte Hosts Conference on Lynching and the American South Oct. 11- 12. Levine Museum is partnering with Theatre Charlotte and their production of  “In the Heat of the Night” to offer two audience talkback sessions.