Whew. Alabama is hot and muggy and rain brought no relief. Is it always like that? After our less than great night in Birmingham we moved on to Montgomery and quickly found the Civil Rights Museum. And— oh no!— it was closed for renovation. So we just stood outside for a bit and wished it was open, then we came up with a new plan.
We'd heard there was a nice little museum called "Freedom Rides" at the old Greyhound Station, so we found it just as it was opening for the day.
It commemorates the Freedom Riders who in 1961 boarded buses in Washington D.C. to ride to New Orleans in an effort to desegregate interstate buses in the south. After a brutal confrontation in Birmingham, where one of the buses was burned, they were met with more violence in Montgomery, which sparked a huge non-violent protest and intervention by President Kennedy who convinced the governor of Alabama to provide protection to the riders, who went on to Mississippi where they were arrested and jailed. Despite everything, ultimately it proved to be a turning point in the cause of transportation desegregation in the South. The little museum is the very station into which the riders arrived in Montgomery and their stories are told in the displays, including this display of their mugshots, showing the states they came from.
These were largely young people, many college students, black and white, who showed great courage, and their stories were moving.
I especially liked the display of art about the Civil Rights movement, including this quilt by Nora Lee Ezell,
And this wonderful print by Faith Ringgold of Martin Luther King in the Birmingham jail.
From Montgomery, we drove to Selma, taking the route of the famous march in reverse, arriving in Selma by way of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
In March, 1965, 600 marchers planned to walk from Selma to the steps of the Capitol in Montgomery to demand fairness in voter registration. They were met at this bridge by state troopers who demanded they disperse. The walkers kept walking and were clubbed, tear-gassed, trampled by police horses in a terrible assault by the troopers. The TV images shocked and sickened people across the nation and weeks later Martin Luther King successfully led the March to Montgomery. There is a small park near the bridge, where we stopped to see the monuments and tributes to the marchers.
It was a rather somber day for us, remembering all this history. We are old enough to remember when these things happened, and glad to see that it is remembered publicly and recorded and memorialized for the future.
Our mood lightened as we arrived in the beautiful city of Mobile and settled into our lovely room in a downtown hotel. The next day we set out to explore the city and I took so many photos I'm sure only I will ever have the patience to look at them all. Houses. They are photos of Mobile houses. I love old houses, and Mobile has 'em. Here's a small taste.
Then we went to the Mobile Botanical Garden and soaked up some more beauty.
So Alabama inspired us in a lot of ways, but it was time to move on...
Next up, Louisiana.