Tuesday, September 26, 2017 : From Birmingham to Montgomery

 

Our hotel was located south of Birmingham. So we have to drive back up North to the center of Birmingham.

 

I realize I do not mention the weather too often, perhaps because, with the exception of a short storm on our second day in New Orleans, there's not much to mention, except that the weather is absolutely gorgeous !

 

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Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

 

We begin with a comprehensive visit of Birmingham Civil Rights institute, the museum dedicated to the struggle for Civil Rights for all. The 1950-60 era, which saw the gradual dismantling of legal discrimination in the South, is well known. However, the period from the end of the Civil War to, say, the 1890s, that saw the implementation of Jim Crow laws, is not so well known. A visit is therefore mandatory, to try and understand how the country who gave the world Jefferson and Lincoln also produced the most questionable practices. This fundamental flaw of the greatest democracy on Earth always leaves me baffled.

 

That being said, the museum's purpose is not divisive but educative. It explains and tells, in a balanced and factual manner, handling with subtletly issues still sensitive as of the present day.

 

We proceed to 16th Street Baptist Church, where a bomb attacked in 1963 killed four young girls. Quite astonishingly, the culprits have only been judged between 1977 and 2002, one of them entirely escaping conviction due to his premature death.

 

We then leave Birmingham to Selma, where the famous 1965 march (54 miles !!!) to obtain voting rights for all, lead by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., began. At the very start of this march, we can see Dr. King and the crowd crossing the now famous Edmund Pettus Bridge.

 

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Rosa Parks

 

We, too, go to Montgomery.

 

We visit Rosa Parks Museum. I assumed she was an ordinary woman, that's not true. In fact, in addition to her job as a seamstress, she also was the local secretary of NAACP, an organization advocating civil rights for persons of color. Anyway, her refusal to give her bus seat to a white passenger in 1955 is the starting point of a boycott that lasted 13 months and ended up in the equal treatment of all passengers on Montgomery busses. The long and difficult march towards integration was beginning.

 

We then go to the Government district in downtown Montgomery, the State capital, to take a few pictures of the steps where Martin Luther King delivered his speech at the end of the march from Selma in 1965. In the same neighborhood, we also see the first Confederate White House, which Jefferson Davis called home from February to June 1861.

 

Leaving Montgomery is no big deal. Even at rush hour, traffic is fluid. It takes us only minutes to drive to our hotel.