Our first day on the road went swimmingly. After a two and a half hour ride from Atlanta, we pulled into Montgomery, Alabama. We quickly hit the city, where we traveled back to the start of the Civil Rights movement. This movement was sparked by Rosa Parks, whose actions inspired the bus boycott in Montgomery. Our first stop was at the Rosa Parks Museum. We began by having Billy set the context of the Civil Rights movement by discussing what America was like and what our lives as teens in 1955 would have been like. I felt that the museum showed a great representation of the obstacles all African Americans faced in the 1950s and 60s. The video representation of Rosa Parks being arrested on the bus was especially powerful because it portrayed the injustices of how Blacks were treated during this time period.
After the tour of the Rosa Parks museum, we went for some food at Martha’s Place. The fried chicken was fantastic. Trying sweet tea for the first time, a Southern tradition, was a new experience, due to me being from up North. However, it wasn’t the food that I most took away from Martha’s Place, but instead, her inspiring story. Martha told us about how she overcame obstacles and adversity to fulfill her dream, which left me with the inspirational idea that if you believe in yourself and your vision, your dream can be achieved.
Next, we visited the Southern Poverty Law Center, where we learned about how to this day, this incredible and just organization fights in civil court for those who cannot pay for lawyers to defend their civil rights and fight hate groups. What I took away from the SPLC was that it is an integral part of law because it helped temporarily shut down a terrible organization like the KKK and provided justice to the families of those affected by hate crimes.
Then, we drove to Birmingham for a visit with Bishop Woods, which was a highlight of the day and possibly one of the biggest of the trip. Bishop Woods is a real life testament to what happened in the Civil Rights movement. By hearing from him in person, it was much easier to see and feel the struggles African Americans had to face. Not only did he tell us his story, but also he taught us songs and chants from the movement. It was wonderful to sing with this hero in the same park where he stood up for his rights back in the 1960s.
When we got back to the hotel, Billy prepared us for our trip to Memphis tomorrow by leading a discussion about the history of rock and roll and the involvement of music in the Civil Rights movement.
Watch our group learning the protest songs of the Civil Rights movement with Bishop Woods in Birmingham:
“99 and a half Won’t Do”-http://youtu.be/
Cheering for our Freedom-http://youtu.be/JH3hgl_dtK0
“This Little Light of Mine”-http://youtu.be/ijZuYVq4uQE