Before I drove to Alabama I did my research about the state before hand. I always knew about the “Gulf Shores” since that’s where alot of people will talk about since it’s a vacation destination for. However, no one has ever said to me you have to go to Montgomery or Selma. There is so much history in these cities and I can’t even imagine not having visited these areas.
To walk in MLK’s footsteps, to see where Rosa Park’s refused to move on the bus, to bare witness to how many African American’s were killed by lynching. We would learn about these topics growing up but we only touched upon them. After visiting these sites and learning about these strong, amazing, and brace Civil Rights leaders; I feel as though it changed me.
Most students in the United States are raised learning that America is one of the best countries in the world if not the number one country in the world. However, when you hear about the racism and hate that took place in our society and which is still present in today’s times it’s very eye opening.
If it were up to me I would make very student in the entire United States should take a trip to Montgomery!
I felt myself crying at different moments and at different times. I felt ashamed and guilty even though I did not take part in any hate crimes. I felt embarrassed to be an American and I felt bad that hate still exists today. The only way to overcome from a tragedy is to accept it and learn from it so you can grow as an individual and as a nation. Visiting these cities in Alabama is the first step to understanding what took place during these times.
Martin Luther King Jr’s House (Dexter Parsonage)
When you arrive at the former residence of Dr Martin Luther King Jr and his wife Coretta Scott King you will meet you guide who will walk you through their house. Your guide will inform you have events that took place and in which rooms of the house. You can even see where the bomb hit their house outside still and it’s marked. Once your enter the kitchen and sat down at their kitchen table the Guide played a sermon from MLK Jr. I couldn’t believe I was sitting at his table listening to him preach. Another indescribable moment that was extremely moving.
Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church
After walking inside the door of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church I was immediately hugged by one of their tour guides who welcomed me. I think this may have been the most welcome that I have ever felt. It was myself and two other women who were there and we were given a tour around the church. We were able to walk into Dr King’s office. Did you know that he studied different types of religions so he can find a common ground between them all. He came to the conclusion is that love is what all religions have in common. We were also able to stand begin his podium, which he used to give his sermons. As we made our way upstairs and sat down we discussed outwardly and openly about racism, how our society is changing and how we need to spread love and kindness. I can honestly say I felt extremely protected and safe in this environment. I also realized that I may think one way but that doesn’t mean everyone else sees things the way I do.
The Legacy Museum
The Legacy Museum covers events such as the Civil Rights movement all the way to modern slavery (prison) for African American’s. It’s a museum that is completely funded by the Equal Justice Initiative. It’s a wonderfully informative and covers so many important issues. There are 3D elements which makes feel like you are interacting with slaves or prisoners. It’s well done and very educational. If you are heading to Montgomery put this on your list!
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is also funded by the Equal Justice Initiative. This memorial is also called the “Lynching Memorial”. There are thousands of African Americans who wee brutally murdered over the years. This memorial focuses on the death of these individuals and calls them by their names. They want to make that everyone knows that they were people and they were not nameless and sure as hell not forgotten. It’s very heartbreaking to walk through this memorial and you will find yourself brought to tears with each step that you take. It makes you realize how many people were murdered for just being black.
Civil Rights Memorial Center
The Civil Right Memorial Center is a museum focused on the Civil Rights movement and the brave citizens who helped take part in it. Many of them were murdered unintentionally during riots and some intentionally. This museum focuses on not only the African Americans who helped fight for segregation and this movement but also the Caucasian people who did as well. Get ready to meet a whole bunch of people who you may not have heard of before but made a huge impact on the movement.
Rosa Parks Museum
The Rosa Parks Museum is located near the intersection where Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus. There is also a 3d model bus which shows you exactly what took place that day on the bus. Did you know what Rosa Parks did was not illegal at the time? If all seats were filled you were not obligated to move to the back of the bus. After speaking with an attorney they said to her you can fight the law or you can try and make a change and she tried to make a change in the way African American’s were treated. Her brave move will never be forgotten and has changed the way African American’s were treated.
Edmund Pettus Bridge
Driving from Montgomery to Selma and back again was very surreal in many ways. There was this almost erie feeling inside of you as you were driving. I has Glory by John Legend and Common playing on repeat as I drove. I was trying to imagine what this would have been like in the 50’s and 60’s. All the African American’s who were lynched along side of this highway and in the surrounding towns. The brave Civil Rights leaders from Joe Lewis to Martin Luther King Jr who took the steps to march along this path. Standing at the Edmund Pettus Bridge made me feel as if I should be doing more with my life. There is still so much hate and inequality and I should follow in the footsteps of these amazing leaders who took a chance to make a difference. It was extremely inspiring and I would recommend this for anyone heading to this area as a must include in their itinerary.