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Archive for the ‘Montgomery, Alabama’ Category

         Our class had to opportunity to visit the Dexter Parsonage Museum.  Dr. King lived in this house when he was a Reverend at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.  Located just seven blocks from the church itself, this little house holds some incredible history.  One of the most unique aspects we learned of was Dr. King’s wife, Rosetta.  We learned that Rosetta’s father did not want her to marry Dr. King, yet even in some of the greatest moments of adversity, Rosetta was there.  On January 30, 1956, Dr. King’s house was bombed; on the porch of the house today, there is still a small crater that identifies where the bombing took place.  When Rosetta’s father wanted her to move out of the parsonage, she stood beside Dr. King.  These actions truly speak to the character of Rosetta and the deep love between Rosetta and Martin Luther.

            Our guide, an old lady by the name of Shirley, really helped to make the tour of the parsonage have such a great impact.  Shirley frequently remarked that she inspired to do her work because she is a “direct beneficiary” of the noble acts of Dr. King.  Yet, throughout Shirley’s tour, her goal was to show that Dr. King was an average young man (in his late 20’s / early 30’s) simply doing what he felt was right.  She talked about the fact that Dr. King had a love for jazz, was a private smoker, and loved his family above all else.  Often times, King is so glorified, yet we neglect the fact that he really was a person above all.

            The greatest part of this museum was the “King-Johnson Garden for Reflection”.  After taking in so much information (from this tour and everything else we have learned), it was nice to just sit and have some quiet time to reflect.  All of what we learn digs so deep and evokes so many emotions; having this time provided some necessary quiet reflection and time take a break from our high-packed schedule.  Around the garden were six benches.  Each bench had a theme: equality, understanding, forgiveness, peace, unity, and hope.  The goal of these benches was to take time to reflect on each theme as it pertains to you, your family, and your community.  Seeing the Dexter parsonage was another great landmark on our journey to gaining a better understanding of civil rights and the hope for a better world.  

The parsonage house in Montgomery where Martin Luther King, Jr. lived.

The parsonage house in Montgomery where Martin Luther King, Jr. lived.

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The State Capitol Building in Montgomery, Alabama is a historical landmark located at the heart of city. Its steps have seen influential leaders shape the history of a state and a nation. The walls inside of the capitol are filled with paintings and artifacts from a state government that has been behind some of the most controversial issues in the history of our nation. From its first use in 1851 until 1985, the building saw the establishment of the Confederate States of America, the swearing in of the CSA’s first and only president, and the executive orders for the enforcement of segregation, including Governor Wallace’s proclamation for “Segregation now, segregation then, and segregation forever.”                 

Alabama State Capitol Building.

Alabama State Capitol Building.

Outside, the steps leading up to the Capitol are made of marble and rise high above the street below, overlooking the city, including Dexter Baptist Church, Dr. King’s church during his stay in Montgomery. Inside, the stairs are supported without any visible beams. The center rotunda rises almost 100 feet from the floor, decorated elaborately with molding and many colors. The second floor has large paintings of significant events in Alabama history, including the founding of the area by colonists and the establishment of the Confederate States of America. The original rooms of the State House of Representatives and Senate are restored to how they would have looked in the mid 1800s.

Rotunda in the Capitol Building.

Rotunda in the Capitol Building.

In the main floor rotunda, there is a large painting of Governor George Wallace, with three flags in the background, including the Confederate battle flag. It is always awe inspiring to walk the halls where history was made. The Capitol of Alabama is a beautiful architectural monument housing the history of Alabama. But on this day it wasn’t about the paintings, furniture, or timelines, it was the conclusion of the Selma-Montgomery Voting Rights March that helped recognize African American’s inalienable right to vote.

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"Neutrality helps the oppressor, not the victim."

"Neutrality helps the oppressor, not the victim."

The Southern Poverty Law Center was founded in 1971 as a civil rights law firm.  Today, it implements a number of education programs ranging from informing law enforcement officials of potential hate groups to “Teaching Tolerance,” which provides teachers with lesson plans that encourage respect and unity in the classroom. The SPLC works hard to both track and fight several hate groups across the country. It has the largest database of domestic terrorists in the country.  

 

Ian, Jackie, Evan and Kristen in front of the memorial.

Ian, Jackie, Evan and Kristen in front of the memorial.

Next to the Center is the Civil Rights Memorial, which honors those who lost their life during the civil rights movement. Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., also created this memorial. It is made out of black granite with important dates of the movement engraved in it. There is constant flowing water over the memorials, as the water represents cleansing.  Another part of the memorial has a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “…until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

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We had a chance to visit the Center’s civil rights museum where we watched a video about the many individuals who were killed during the movement era. We then added our name to the “Wall of Tolerance,”  pledging to take a stand against hate, injustice and intolerance. The museum also highlighted innocent victims from the past twenty years who lost their lives due to intolerance and discrimination. 

 

Our names on the "Wall of Tolerance."

Our names on the "Wall of Tolerance."

 

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