Several months ago Penguin Random House announced that Juneteenth would be a recognized holiday and paid day off. With things finally opening up (especially museums) and 2020 trips waiting to be rebooked, I decided to re-book my trip down south for the long weekend.
It was my first visit to Alabama and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to see some of the key cities of the Civil Rights Museum.
One thing I was reminded of while walking through The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is how with every victory for the Civil Rights Movement, the South pushed back HARD. Whether it was through terrorist attacks, lynchings, loophole laws, or simple disregard for Federal changes.
I knew this already, but going through and seeing so many historical details was another stark reminder. I can’t help but think of what we’re seeing today with voter suppression again. So much work still to be done.
I also didn’t know how much Fred Shuttlesworth (Pastor and activist) did for Birmingham and the movement. The postcard and statue that stands outside The Institute is him.
It’s also so jarring to see a Klan robe in person. I can’t help but think of who hide behind it, chose hatred, and lived such a sad life. It was donated to the museum anonymously, so makes me wonder what the story is.
But the museum did a solid job looking at the ugly history (so we can learn from it), but also all the incredible people who worked nonstop to bring change. Amazing to read all the ways God used some many men and women to bring needed change. May we continue their work!
Next I headed out to Montgomery. Humidity was out and about on my second day, but I didn’t mind. I refuse to complain about the heat. I’m soaking up and storing up for later months :). Here’s some more details from the photos above:
1. The Rosa Parks Museum: One of the shorter museums, but really enjoyed the creative displays throughout. Lots to watch and read, but an excellent looks at the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
2. Some random downtown Montgomery art and sites.
3. The Dexter Parsonage: It was closed, but this is the restored parsonage of Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church that Dr. King Jr. and his family resided here during his pastorate from 1954-1960. The parsonage was bombed several times during the fight for civil rights, but fortunately no one was ever injured.
4. The Civil Rights Memorial: It was closed as well, but the front still had a beautiful fountain and memorial to see.
While there is so much incredible history to see here, one of the main reasons I finally decided to head to Alabama is because of the Equal Justice Initiative started by Bryan Stevenson. If you follow me anywhere on the internet, you probably haven’t missed how often I talk about their work, Just Mercy, and Stevenson.
“To overcome racial inequality, we must confront our history.”
Such an incredibly powerful memorial – if you ever have the chance, please take time to visit.
Here’s what one of the Memorials reads: “It is impossible to give the number of negroes that have been killed. There is a great many missing that have not been heard from…The freed people have had all their arms taken away from them, and they are in the most deplorable condition of any people on earth. All that were living in the county by themselves, have been robbed of everything of the least value – even taking the under dressing of free women, their bed clothes; in a word every thing of the smallest value, and then driven from their homes into the woods. It is the most sickening sight I ever witnessed to see…”
Freedman’s Bureau Correspondence
Hopkins County, Texas: July 17, 1868
“At this memorial, we remember the thousands killed, the generations of black people terrorized, and the legacy of suffering and injustice that haunts us still. We also remember the countless victims whose deaths were not recorded in the news archives and cannot be documented, who are recognized solely in the mournful memories of those who loved them. We believe that telling the truth about the age of racial terror and reflecting together on this period and its legacy can lead to a more thoughtful and informed commitment to justice today. We hope this memorial will inspire individuals, communities, and this nation to claim our difficult history and commit to a just and peaceful future.”
This is a video I made after going through the Memorial. May we mourn, lament, honor, and remember.
“If we have the courage and tenacity of our forebears, who stood firmly like a rock against the lash of slavery, we shall find a way to do for our day what they did for theirs.” Mary McLeod Bethune
Where The Legacy Museum and Equal Justice Initiative both now sit once served as one of the locations where they “warehoused” enslaved Black people. Now it’s dedicated to sharing important pieces of America’s history. So incredibly thankful for all the work Bryan Stevenson and Equal Justice Initiative has done and continues to do. 🖤 (Quote by Maya Angelou)
I hope on another trip down south, I’ll be able to see some more (like Selma).