Greetings from Birmingham. The weather has finally cooled off...dropped below 80 this evening!! During the 80 miles from Montgomery to Birmingham, I reached a new milestone: 2,000 miles. The people w/Alamo rental car are going to find out the real meaning of "unlimited mileage:)"
While this trip has been exhilarating day in and day out, I reached a new high today. I visited the Rosa Parks Museum & Library in Montgomery, and if I were to describe it in one word that word would be WOW!! Built in 2006 and administered by Troy University, I'm confident that the Rosa Parks Museum represents the "new age" of museums. It combines history with modern technology and the result is amazing. Quite honestly, it gave me chills and it made me feel like I was there on December 1, 1955...the day one courageous woman's decision to resist segregation and humiliation set off a movement throughout the United States. However, few really understand the story AFTER Rosa Parks was arrested, booked, and sent to jail. Her decision set off the Montgomery Bus Boycott, an 18-month battle of attrition that pitted the 90 years of government-supported discrimination against the African-American citizens of Montgomery.
Under the leadership of Ralph Abernathy and Martin Luther King, Jr. (26 years old and fresh out of divinity school), the African-Americans of Montgomery refused to ride the bus. This was something that required extraordinary commitment as most people ended up walking as much as 5 miles each way to work, the doctor, the grocery store, etc. More of these people will be forever nameless, but their courage in the face of true adversity should never be underestimated. Dependant on black ridership who made up more than 60 of bus passengers, the city capitulated and integrated. Think about the repercussions of one woman's amazing act: clear victory, the creation of a national leader in Dr. King, and the strengthening of a nationwide Civil Rights Movement headed towards its golden age. Thank you, Rosa Parks!
As I sit here in Birmingham, I'm looking forward to returning to the 16th Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park. No place better explains the triumph and tragedy of the CRM than this important spot. The church that was ground zero for the Children's March and a clear victory legally and in the court of public opinion. It was also the place where 4 little girls were tragically killed. I will visit this storied church tomorrow, as well as the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute that sits next door. It should be an amazing day.