A packed day yesterday -- we left Atlanta and made our way to Birmingham. After replacing a broken down bus, we first stopped in Montgomery, Alabama for a noon concert at the Old Ship AME Zion Church, a the oldest African American church in the city. After the concert, we were served lunch by the church -- a delicious buffet of fried chicken, various pasta dishes, salad, and pound cake with vanilla ice cream. After lunch, we walked over to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (the National Lynching Memorial). What a sobering place, with its suspended slabs of rusty metal representing each county in the country where lynchings took place, and the name of the lynched inscribed on the side. The slabs went on and on. . .
We stopped on our way out of town at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached his message of hope and brotherhood from 1954 to 1960. In its basement, King organized the Montgomery bus boycott. We walked in on a tour of the church in progress, and were invited by the tour guide to perform a pop-up concert in the sanctuary. Very moving to be singing about peace and justice in the church where Rev. King got his start.
Back on the bus, we headed to Selma, where we walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Built in 1940, it is named after Edmund Winston Pettus, a former Confederate brigadier general, Democratic U.S. Senator, and grand wizard of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. It is the site of the conflict of Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965, when armed police attacked and brutally beat Civil Rights Movement demonstrators with horses, billy clubs, and tear gas as they were attempting to march to the state capital, Montgomery. On the other side of the bridge, a small quiet park celebrated some of the heroes of the movement. After resting there for a while, we were back on the buses on our way to Birmingham, where we arrived at about 8:45.
Certainly a day filled with things to think about.