Thursday, March 23, 2017

Montgomery, Alabama: Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement

Thursday March 23 Montgomery, Alabama

The first place we visited today was the Rosa Parks Museum. The Rosa Parks Museum was very interesting because it highlighted and explained the entire Montgomery Bus Boycott not just the Rosa Parks movement that started it. At the museum, I learned about how African Americans organized the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) and used volunteers to drive African Americans who refused to ride the busses in Montgomery. After leaving the Rosa Parks Museum we had a tour of the Alabama state Capitol. The Capitol building was extremely beautiful, but I did not enjoy our tour. I don't think that our tour guide understood the history of the capitol of Alabama and I believe that she purposely tried to sugar coat or gloss over the state's terrible history with racism and slavery. We also visited 309 S. Jackson St the home where MLK lived while living in Montgomery. His home is now known as the Dexter Parsonage Museum. Here we had a fantastic tour (The best yet) by a brilliant older woman named Dr. Cherry. She breathed life into her tour of Dr. King's house and it will undoubtedly become one of my most memorable and cherished moments of the trip. We ended our day by visiting the Southern Poverty Law and the Equal Justice Initiative. At the Equal Justice Initiative, we heard from Anthony Ray Hinton an Alabama man who was falsely convicted of killing two fast food managers and sentenced to death. Hinton spent 30 years in prison on death row before finally being cleared of all charges. During his 30 years in prison Hinton lost his mother and fell behind society technologically. Hinton spoke about the tremendous role that race and economic status played in his conviction, and how the state of Alabama routinely discriminates against people of color in criminal proceedings. This discussion brought me to tears and was one of the saddest discussions I've ever sat in. Although it was very sad to hear about such systemic racism and injustice, listening to Hinton's story strengthened my resolve to become an attorney and stand up for individuals who are not always able to stand up for themselves. Today was a long and rough day emotionally and mentally but I am learning a great deal about race relations in the United States and I am grateful for this opportunity.

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