We do not intend to provide a full history of those important times but rather to present important places with good photography, hopefully brought to life by the text. To experience it all first hand, you need the means of transportation and a nights lodging in Montgomery. Oh, yes, to be able to walk a mile is recommended.
For me, it begins here in Clinton, Tennessee.
As we join our tour group, I have to think of these youngsters in the small town of Clinton, walking down Broad Street, the road partially seen below the figures in the photograph. The prominent building is the courthouse and approximate location of the high school in 1956 is shown at the light gray patch marked "school". The location is now a middle school, hidden by the trees in this photograph. Destroyed by a dynamite bomb in 1958, the kids had no school of their own for more than 3 years and attended in the neighboring town of Oak Ridge. Still, integration had not come to parts of the South.
We thought we knew much of the story of the times. The days in Alabama proved how much more there was to learn in history and in the heart. But first, there is the bus ride.
Our bus ride to Birmingham was highlighted by the 16th Street Baptist Church. The church was bombed 7 years later than the Clinton High School, taking the lives of 4 young girls who happened to be in a room near the explosion.
- Court Square is marked by a beautiful fountain, showing awareness and support of the fight against breast cancer on the day we visited. When slave trade was active in Montgomery, a platform was set-up in the same location to handle the display and sales. Buildings to the left of the fountain from the map view were used to warehouse new additions to the slave market.
- The church with distinctive red roof held the pastor's office, with the shadow of the capitol building. Within only 1.5 blocks from the state capitol, I had to wonder, who was more intent on watching whom! Martin Luther King was the pastor and following the arrest of Rosa Parks for violating the Jim Crow* law requiring her to sit in the back of of a public bus and give up her seat to any white person, Dr. King was in that office helping plan the 2 year bus boycott by Blacks. Interesting enough, many "colored" ladies worked as housekeepers and(as I was told) their white employers would often give the housekeepers rides to work and to the shopping areas.
* An explanation of "Jim Crow" will be provided with a web link later in this article.
Walking From Court Square to the State Capitol Building
and quite knowledgeable on the subjects of our bus trip..
This is looking up the avenue to the capitol building. The Dexter Ave. Church where Dr. King was pastor is about 1.5 blocks up on the right.
These commemorative markers shared similar locations but on opposite sides of the avenue.
I should hope the Jefferson Davis marker is protected as is the one on the right for Dr. King. Political correctness is a faulty excuse to remove history and as President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis is an honest part of history.
Hot day in Alabama...resting before going a couple of blocks down the street to see and tour the Dexter Avenue church.
Our group at the entrance to the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church.
The docent was excellent, entertaining and thorough in historical information.
And, she could sing! Everyone on the tour was roused to good spirits by an old gospel song.
Back on the Bus
I was handed a speech given by Booker T. Washington in Atlanta in 1895. I was surprised by his advocacy of submission and appeasement at the best way for "the negro to survive well in the white man's land. We would soon be at Tuskegee University where he was president for several years, years of development, change and growth of that good university. Dr. George Washington Carver would be well represented at the university and a museum is there dedicated to him. His work in agricultural development intended to improve the poorest man(the man"farthest down"). I looked forward to seeing more of these famous men.
We arrived at Tuskegee...a highlight of the trip and the chancde to meet and photograph
Fred Gray, renowned Civil Rights Attorney. We arrived at his "Human And Civil Rights
Multicultural Center. We arrived a little after 9 a.m. and went upstairs to a room where three young ladies from Auburn, Alabama were in an interview of Dr. Gray, gathering information for national competition documentary. They would take their documentary to Washington, D.C for final judging. Watching these three bright young ladies ask questions and make notes, the kindness of Mr. Gray was quite apparent. He knew the importance of helping in this documentary and the wonderful value of the project to the girls. This is something they will always have to remember. In fact, a fine memory, too, for me and everyone else on our trip.
Several of us purchased a book personally signed by Fred Gray.
He apparently does not use the term Dr. with his name, an honorary degree well earned in the real life he lived and devoted to justice and elimination of discrimination.
There is a striking floor memorial with the names of men victimized in the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment.
I present photographs of Fred Gray, his interview with the young ladies and some of our group while there. Facial expressions tell much in these images.
This is certainly the most treasured photograph of the Alabama trip. Fred Gray..showing what we felt is a face of the Righteousness to Keep Alive his Goal of Human Justice
Now, it is back on the bus and to Tuskegee University for quick walkabout and visit to the Carver museum and Booker T. Washington Home.
THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN
With all their successes in the field, Tuskegee officers found that when they returned from Europe, they were still second-class citizens at home. Their contributions to American freedom had not endeared them to some of their white military brothers, and some feared lynching by mobs if they dared to leave the base.
What is meant by "Jim Crow" Laws?