It's funny how even though we saw repetition in many of the exhibits, placards and museums we visited, the stories are still not embedded in me. On one hand it is not my history, as I wasn't alive yet, and so it takes effort to remember the names and dates and happenings. On the other hand, it is my history; this history belongs to all of us as Americans- not just because it is the story of our nation, but because we inherit both the legacy of courage of those struggling for civil rights and the legacy of shame for the horrific ways our fellow Americans maybe even our ancestors terrorized our human beings, and for the ways racism still marks our nation's landscape. More than once this week I uttered Lord Have Mercy. Our capacity as humans to cause damage to others is incredible.
Day 2: Montgomery + Selma
On Tuesday, we went back to downtown Montgomery to explore in the daylight. We parked by this beautiful, historic home around the corner from the Southern Poverty Law Center. (I keep being astounded as an Oaklander how massive these Southern homes are)
(Loved this pretty fence and gate)
There is a monument outside of the Southern Poverty Law Center by Maya Lin, who made the Vietnam Memorial. Powerful to put our hands in the water. The monument bubbles up in the center, and it made me think of how many small but intentional actions bubbled up during the civil rights period, until it finally couldn't be ignored.
We went to this famous Montgomery spot, Chris' Hot Dogs. You have to try a place when at 10 PM a city bus stops a block away and someone yells out of the front doors of the bus, "Is Chris' still open?"
Holy goodness, and I don't even like hot dogs. Meanwhile, husband indulged his obsession with sweet tea.
After getting some food, we went to the Dexter Ave Baptist Church for a tour of the church where Dr. King was a pastor for 6 years. Hands down this was the best tour I've ever been on. The tour guide began our time by getting to know each one of us, and by leading us in a time of singing We Shall Overcome. A local kid was there, and didn't know it cost money, and multiple people volunteered to pay for his tour. maybe I cried multiple times on the tour (of course if you know me, this is not shocking.)
We began in Dr. King's study, which is original.
John Daniels , a young seminarian, was killed in Hayneville, Alabama.
Viole Liuzzo , a white mother of five who had driven down from Michigan after reading news reports of how awful the struggle was becoming, was shot in her car while driving a black marcher home.
Her monument has been vandalized many times so it is surrounded by a fence.
A sobering day. So much to absorb. Lucky for us we ended up having a great conversation with a couple of locals who have lived in Selma their entire lives, and who have been actively involved in civil rights. And then as we headed to bed, the maintainace guy- African American, and probably in his 70's-walked over to us, introduced himself, and handed us two books about Rosa Parks and Bernard Lafayette (another Civil Rights activist) for us to borrow and read. It felt sacred, so I stayed up late reading one of the books, and thinking about how even in 2015 it was likely still an act of bravery for an elderly black man to approach and give a white couple some books.