Today we ended up starting the morning by getting on the bus and heading to the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum. It was really a fantastic museum with a lot of great visuals. The two that stick out in my mind are the following: a comparison of white vs. black classrooms and a comparison of mortality rates for infants. The comparison of white versus black classrooms was startling. The white classroom had an old school projector, nice desks, with different colored walls, and a nice tile floor with quality lighting. On the other hand the black classroom was filled with poor quality wooden desks, wooden floors in poor shape, dreary walls and an old chalkboard with poor lighting. It is one thing to hear about these differences but being able to see them first hand right next to each other was a startling experience and really pushes you to think about the inequalities that exist especially within the education system. The other visual that I found fascinating was the mortality rates. This visual had white crosses and black crosses sitting right next to each other. There were more black crosses then white ones showing the fact that more black infants die then white ones. This shows that there were huge divides in access to medical care, and even now there are huge divides with access to medical treatment.
Once we passed these visuals there was a room that was dimly lit with panes of glass with pictures of black people as well as white people with sounds clips of people making rude statements against the black community. In the back of this room there was a KKK robe. I am not sure what it was but there was something about this room that just gave me the chills. It was so powerful and emotional.
Then the rest of the museum was filled with a combination of more exhibits and pictures from the civil rights movement in Birmingham. No matter how many times I see the pictures of people getting sprayed by the hoses they will always upset me. I had a conversation with another one of the girls on the trip about how even though those pictures upset us there are a decent amount of people in this world that could look at those pictures and think that that is the correct thing to do, that those black people deserve to feel that pain. I cannot even being to imagine seeing a picture like that and finding joy. I see that picture and all I see is the desire for equality to the point of risking ones on personal safety.
After we finished up at the museum we headed over towards the 16th Street Baptist Church, which is the church that was bombed with the four girls that were killed. One of the interesting things I learned was that when the bomb exploded part of a stained glass window broke, it was a window with a portrait of Jesus, however the only part that broke out was his face. I thought that was very powerful. We learned all this from a man who gave us a tour of the church as well as showed us an informational movie about the church. After that we all walked around the park that was across the street and I personally did the “Freedom Walk” which was a circular path with artistic representations of different events and occurrences from the civil rights movement. The most powerful one was where there were two black walls with metal dogs coming out of them.
Now we are headed on our way to little rock. I really enjoyed today and am really looking forward to the rest of the trip. I just can’t get over how quickly the trip is going. And I don’t even want to start thinking about all the homework I need to do before break is over.