Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A weekend in Montgomery, AL

They had the state capitol blocked off because the new governor was being sworn in the next day. 

Montgomery, Alabama.  If you had asked me even three years ago if I ever thought I would spend a weekend here, let alone Martin Luther King weekend, I wouldn't have believed you.  But, that's exactly what we did just three days ago.  Dean had a conference and the hotel boasted an indoor pool, so we decided to take advantage of it.  Except, there really wasn't an indoor pool, but the weather was spectacular and I was bound and determined to see everything you could possibly see in one afternoon, regardless of eye rolls and complaints from the back seat. 

Did you know Alabama was the fourth state to secede from the Union and home to the first "White House" of the confederacy? Alabama also lays claim to starting the Civil War because, as we learned, the telegraph ordering Confederate troops to fire on Fort Sumter was sent from the Winter Building, (pictured below).  I'm not sure how I feel about any of this.  I know historically it's important, but it seemed odd to me to pay to see inside the museum at the First White House of the Confederacy, so we didn't.  I'm sure the Daughters of the Confederacy is a lovely organization and they have done a great job keeping up the old place, but honestly it seemed a little weird to visit these sites all well within walking distance of the Civil Rights Memorial.  


We had to wait a while for our tour of the Martin Luther King Jr. sites, so I went to find the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald home.  My children were less than thrilled when we all piled back into the car, but there was time to kill and I didn't know if I'd ever get another chance.  On the way there we happened upon a familiar street.  We decided to document it.

The museum at the Fitzgerald home was closed, but there was a lovely quote by Zelda out front that described their time in Montgomery, 
"Every place has its hours.... So in Jefferson (Montgomery) there existed then, and I suppose now, a time and quality that appertains to nowhere else. It began about half pst six on an early summer night, with the flicker and sputter of the corner street lights going on, and it lasted until the great incandescent globes were black. Inside wtih moths and beetles and the children were called in to bed from the dusty streets.'

'Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, "Southern Girls", October 1929.'

On our way back to the city we happened upon the birthplace of Nat King Cole (not pictured), The Hank Williams museum, and the sight of Rosa Parks' arrest, now a beautiful library and museum.  Alas, it was also closed, but Alan and I pressed on with the photos while everyone else rolled their eyes and stayed in the car.

Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church and Parsonage were next on the list and definitely our favorites.  They don't allow photos inside either building, but it was enough just to be there.  You can see the State Capitol in the background of this photo.  It is literally one block away.  Two buildings so close together, but with such differing view points on everything during the Civil Rights era.  Dr. King organized the bus boycott in the office here and so much more.


The front porch of the parsonage, where a bomb went off during the bus boycotts.  No one was injured.  Dr. King wasn't even home, but his wife, a neighbor and their 10 week old baby girl were all inside when it happened.  
The boys had so many questions.  Ben concluded that 1. the bomb maker wasn't very good, or smart (the bomb didn't really explode, just caused a lot of smoke damage). And 2. God knew Dr. King still had a lot of good to do so he protected him and his family. 

Admiring the fountain at the Civil Rights Memorial Museum.  The water rolls off the edge of the fountain, just like in the quote below, and has all the events leading up to the passing of the Civil Rights Bill engraved on it's surface.  Inside we were able to add our names to the "Wall of Tolerance".  

 I think they took something away from our road trip.  We ended up not making it to Selma due to time constraints and the fact that Oprah Winfrey and her entourage were there for the weekend, thus making it impossible to take a "quick tour" of the town.  I really wanted to see the re-enactment march over the Edmund Pettis bridge, and someday I will.  For now, this was enough. Happy Martin Luther King Day!

1 comment:

  1. so interesting. thanks for the history lesson.