by Carolyn Singleton, History Educator
On Germantown Avenue, within a few blocks of Historic Fair Hill, are two murals known as the “Healing Walls”. One is a memorial to the victims and survivors of crime, the “Victims Journey”. The other is a testament of the offenders, many now incarcerated for life – sentenced to “death by incarceration”, the “Inmates Journey”.
Both murals are part of the Historic Fair Hill mural tour. The murals capture the suffering that comes from the loss of a loved one through death at the hands of another and the suffering that comes from the loss of a loved one through incarceration. The murals also depict the importance of prayer as a source of relief from suffering, as a source of healing, redemption and forgiveness. There is solace and rebirth under the watchful eyes and protection of angels, the intermediaries between God and humanity.
Everyone sees something different. For some there is a connection. We talk about restorative justice using textbook definitions and theories. The messages depicted in the murals add another dimension. You can see the pain and anguish on both sides. To really experience the murals is to take a personal journey of self-reflection. What do I really think about crime and punishment? What do I think about redemption and forgiveness? Is it “right” to have empathy for someone who has taken the life of another? Is it “unfair” to expect victims and survivors to talk to those who have harmed them? Is it “naïve” to think that offenders can be truly remorseful and rehabilitated?
Some on the “Inmates Journey” are having their life sentences commuted. The reasons vary. The “Inmates Journey” of a 44 year old man sentenced to life for a murder he committed at the age of 19 is ending soon, his sentence commuted. Is this cause for celebration? I have witnessed his journey for redemption up close and from afar. But I cannot help but wonder; how are things on the other side, for the survivors on the “Victim’s Journey”?
Join Carolyn for a tour and discussion of the murals surrounding the Fairhill Burial Ground on Saturday, May 14th. Let us know you’re coming by registering here. You can also read Carolyn’s previous mural reflection here.