Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day Four Adventures

Day Four of the UI Civil Rights Pilgrimage offered us an amazing opportunity to further delve into events of the Civil Rights Movement. Over the past few days in Atlanta, we have learned about the generalities of the movement; focusing on the overall qualities and events. Today, we began bright and early in the morning at the Rosa Parks’ Library and Museum in Montgomery, Alabama.  

There, we saw a good reproduction of Rosa Parks’ arrest and aftermath. The exhibit presented a lot of information and original documents from those times. We learned about the immediate aftermath for Mrs. Parks as well as the significant dates of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. We even saw clips of President Clinton recognizing Rosa Parks for her efforts to begin the modern Civil Rights Movement. We were even able to take pictures with a statue of Mrs. Parks from the famous picture.

Our next site was outside the Southern Poverty Law Center fountain. We took many pictures and even a group picture (which our amazing advisor January should post) of the unique monument to those who have senselessly died in the fight for the Civil Rights Movement. Afterwards, we took a brisk walk around downtown Montgomery before heading to the home of Martin Luther King Jr and his family while he was pastor of the Dexter Street Baptist Church

We had a great tour guide who was quite knowledgeable and very personable. She gave us a great introduction and a tour. I was truly shocked at just how close we could get to the actual artifacts of the King’s home. We saw the original furniture, set up, and even the crater created by the thrown bomb during the bus boycott. It was truly a hollowed group, especially the kitchen where MLK Jr. is said to have gotten the courage to continue the fight. 

When we were finished with the tour, we ran back to the Southern Poverty Law Center for a tour of the museum. It was a great opportunity to learn more about each person’s individual story who died senselessly. After the SPLC, we visited the Alabama State Capitol Building. It was a beautiful and historic building but we all got the feeling that they were ignoring critical parts of the state’s history (eg: the Civil Rights Movement, slavery, MLK Jr, etc). We found little if no mention to these events however many displays to the building being the place where the birth of the confederacy occurred.

Our next stop was the United Evangelical Lutheran Church. There we met a good friend of January who had put together a panel of living witnesses for us. Not only did they cater us dinner but the members of the panel presented us their own individual experiences from the era. Included among our distinguished panel were individuals who had participated in the fight in Montgomery, a former pastor, a neighbor to the Kings, a close co-worker to MLK Jr. in Atlanta and the family of one of the plaintiffs whose case reversed the legality of bus segregation with the US Supreme Court. 

I don’t think I can adequately describe how amazing the presentation was. Each person combined real world memories and experiences which were inspiration, education and even humorous. I must give much thanks to them and let them know how life changing I felt the experience with. Each has lived a unique and fulfilling life and continue to be making a difference in their community; building a better world for tomorrow.  

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