We were sitting conversing with some friends before we left on our road trip and talking about the route we planned to take. Greg said, “We're going to stop in Montgomery, Alabama and check out the Civil Rights Memorial. It's a mile in.” I looked at him askance and said, “A mile in?? I thought it was, like, right on the street.” Greg gave me one of his patented “Greg” looks and said, “A Maya Lin...NOT a mile in.” And he is right, of course. The Memorial was designed by Maya Lin, the woman who created the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. and it is accessible and right on the street, not a mile in.
The Memorial is a striking design. It consists of a conical piece of black marble with a round smooth top engraved with important events in the Civil Rights Movement and the names of 40 people who died in the Civil Rights struggle between 1954, the year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled racial segregation in schools unlawful and 1968, the year of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. Water flows from the center of the circle in ripples over the edge of the cone. Behind this is a curved wall, inscribed with the words from King's I Have a Dream speech, “...we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
The day we were there, it was still pretty cold out although it was beginning to warm up. We were disappointed to see that the Memorial was roped off because of the possibility of ice on the ground surrounding the Memorial. It didn't look all that icy to me so I went around the barrier and Greg followed. Out of nowhere a guard showed up to remind us that we were not supposed to be in there. But he was very polite about it and didn't hurry us up too much.
We then went on to the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church where Martin Luther King, Jr. was pastor from 1954 to 1960 and where he helped to organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In our inevitable way, we were too early and the church wasn't opened yet. Since we had to get on the road, we just admired the outside and went on our way.
But before we left Montgomery, we had to drive by Riverwalk Stadium, the home of the Montgomery Biscuits AA baseball team affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays. Low and behold, it was open. So we parked and went in. Being inside a ballpark in the middle of the winter is a special treat even when no one is playing.
We traced the route of the Selma to Montgomery Marches of 1965 only we did it backwards and ended up in Selma. We drove into Selma over the Edmund Pettis Bridge where the marches began. Selma is a charming southern town and we enjoyed our short time there. And we appreciated being able to visit the sites where such profound events took place that we both so clearly remember from our youths.