We left Montezuma, Georgia and headed over to Montgomery, Alabama. Travel was good and the weather and traffic were perfect. After 288 miles we pulled in to Woods RV Park, a Good Sam’s Club park, where we stayed for about $20/per night. It took about 10 minutes to set up the RV and then we were ready for adventure.
The Freedom Ride Museum was a short ride away and housed in the old Greyhound Bus terminal. No pictures were allowed inside but the museum was a great experience. While I knew a bit about the freedom rides, there was so much more to learn. I thought that when the riders dispersed they were safe. We found that they were chased, beaten, arrested and tormented through the night. Many took refuge in area churches and many were taken in by families sympathetic to the cause.
A highlight was meeting Dr. Valda H. Montgomery who happened to be visiting the museum and speaking about her experiences during the freedom rides. As a child, her family took in many of the riders to keep them safe through the night. We spoke to her at length about where we stand today on civil rights and how things have changed. Or not. http://www.valdahmontgomery.com/
We went to Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church for service (10:30 to 12:45) on Sunday. The service was moving and the music! The music! Fantastic! The church was built in 1883 and was originally named Second Colored Baptist Church. Dr. Martin Luther King was pastor there from 1954-1960, while it was still named Second Colored Baptist Church. The church was at the epicenter of Montgomery’s early civil rights activity and Dr. King directed the 1956 bus boycott from his church office. The church became Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1978. https://www.dexterkingmemorial.org/about/history/
We went to The Legacy Museum (built on the site of a slave warehouse) and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Pictures were not allowed in the Legacy so the following were taken at the memorial for the 4,400 men, women, and children of color who were victims of racial terror lynchings in America from 1877-1950. The place is sacred and the experience is very moving. https://museumandmemorial.eji.org/
The Civil Rights Museum and the SPLC Civil Rights Memorial. I haven’t mentioned before but all these places are must see. You will be moved and you will have questions.
Next stop, Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University. Few places would allow pictures but there are some of Mrs. Parks’ statues and art and exhibits I liked in the Southern African American Art exhibit. https://www.troy.edu/student-life-resources/arts-culture/rosa-parks-museum/index.html
Off to Selma, Alabama for more historical context. We walked on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site of Bloody Sunday and toured the historic district. Unfortunately, many of the museums and historic sites were closed, even though they were supposed to be open (not quite a snake-eyed tour). The trip was still worth it to see the sites and learn about the battle of Selma during the civil war.
A couple of historic churches that were active in the civil rights movement are below. Sadly we were not able to go inside.
The last museum we toured was the Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald home in Montgomery. It was supposed to be open but it, too was closed. We knocked loudly on the door and the docent came down and let us tour even though they were closed. There is a $10 charge per person and while I liked the place, I was certainly glad I didn’t have to pay. https://www.thefitzgeraldmuseum.org/
We enjoyed touring these sites and the best things were learning more about the history and meeting all the people who were very willing to tell their stories. This ended our last day in Montgomery and we are off to Vicksburg, Mississippi for our next adventure. Stay tuned!