Let it be said that Southern Studies students don’t believe in slowing down towards the end of a road trip! We went to three cities today, and each place was a pivotal location in Alabama during the Civil Rights movement- Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham.
We started in Montgomery at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice which remembers the victims of the period of domestic terrorism that prevailed in the United States (especially the Southern States) from 1877 to 1950. We encourage you to read more about this remarkable place and the work being done by Bryan Stevenson’s Equity and Justice Initiative. The markers were arranged by state and county, and we were able to find the marker for Thomas Ship and Abraham Smith who were murdered in Marion, Indiana in 1930. Significantly, there is no memorial to this horrific event in the city of Marion itself, just as there are no memorials to many of these victims in other locations around the country.
EJI has made replicas of all the markers, which lie just outside the monument, in the hope that they will be claimed and erected by the communities that live around the sites of these lynchings. We thought it would be wonderful if we Hoosiers would take advantage of this opportunity to reflect on our own past.
From there it was an hour’s journey to Selma, the site of Bloody Sunday on March 7th 1965. The notorious incident, captured on film, provided the impetus for passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the landmark civil rights bills of the 1960s. We were able to walk the Edmund Pettus Bridge and visit the interpretive center located at the foot of the bridge.
We drove back to Birmingham to say goodbye to Maisie as she headed off for a family wedding.
And finally, we toured Kelly Park and the 16th Street Baptist Church, important sites during the struggle to desegregate the public facilities in Birmingham in 1963; and then climbed to the top of one of the emblems of Birmingham – the Vulcan Statue.
After a delicious dinner at Chuck and Mary Johnson Butterworth’s home, we started driving North back to Tennessee. We’ve almost come full circle on this tour, and we are excited to share our adventures! See you soon, panthers!