Thursday, July 9, 2015

2015 Road Trip, Day 18: Rosa Parks' Legacy

Our tour stops for today were in Montgomery, Alabama.  Luke will soon be beginning his study of the Civil Rights movement, and we decided what better way to study than to go to where Mrs. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, or where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired?

Our day began at Dexter King Memorial Baptist Church. 

We had an absolutely wonderful tour guide.  Ms. Wanda was overwhelming with her enthusiasm for everyone.  She insisted on learning everyone's name, and called us each by it during the tour.  One family we were with were returning visitors who she recognized on sight!  I would go back just to visit with her again!

We got to explore two very special places under the church - Dr. King's office and the Bible Study room.  Many of the pieces in the office belonged to Dr. King, including the books still on the shelves.  Dr. King was a Baptist pastor, but he studied many religions because he found that no matter what the specific beliefs were, at the core of it all was a call to love.  We also saw a lecturn that he used to give a speech in front of the state house.   The Church loaned it to the props department for the movie Selma, not realizing that their Bible school podium was about to become the star of a scene recreated to mimic the one it originally had been in!  Our guide related that another tourist had asked why wasn't it behind glass because of it's historical value, and the reply was, "Because we're gonna need it come Sunday.  We're still making history with it!"

After the downstairs tour, we were led up to the sanctuary.  What a simple yet beautiful church.

 This arch was carved from a single tree.

One of the "upgrades" in 1980 was a new baptismal pool. When not in use, it is covered by the runner.

 One of the "better" upgrades, they added hot and cold taps so that the water was a bit more temperate for baptisms.

The light from the replacement stained glass windows was simply beautiful.  Want to know what broke my heart?  They had to put bulletproof glass on the outside of the windows to protect them.

 These windows in the choir loft, along with the one above the vestibule door, are originals from the late 1800s.   Dexter is one of the oldest churches in Montgomery, but is actually the second African-American Baptist church.  It was built in 1887. 

You can also see the painted tin ceilings. It and the wood plank floors are also original.

It has been re-upholstered, but this chair was also used by Dr. King, his predecessors, and the pastors since.  The pulpit is original to the building as well.

From outside the church, you can see the corner plaza where slaves were bought and sold, and the white building that housed them between transactions.

After slavery was outlawed following the Civil War, the street was renamed from "Market Street"  (called that because it was where the slave market was) to "Dexter Street" in honor of the founder of Montgomery.  As the street was re-bricked after the change, the congregation gathered the discarded bricks that were torn up, and used them to build the foundation.

When we left, we were excited to go out and learn more about the Civil Rights movement.  We didn't feel as if we had just taken a tour and had facts recited to us; we felt like we were charged up to keep the spirit of Dr. King's work alive.

Down the street is the Civil Rights memorial.  There is also a museum to visit there, but we skipped it because we were running out of time on our parking meter, and there was a no-refeeding policy.  Side note: can I just say how proud I am that I have parallel parked a total of three times in the past 18 years (including taking my drivers' test), and I managed to parallel park our behemoth on my first shot?

 We walked around the corner to the memorial and spent a few minutes there.  It was nauseating to read the names of the people listed on the monument as murdered for being the "wrong" skin color. 

After going back to retrieve our car, we drove over to the Rosa Parks Museum and Children's Library.  This is part of Troy University, and consists of a "Time Travel" bus (in the children's section) that gives a brief history of the events leading up to Mrs. Park's bus ride and then a reenactment and small museum depicting her arrest and the details of the subsequent bus boycott.

After this stop, we began our journey to Chattanooga.  After a quick stop for lunch outside of Montgomery, we were on our way.

We drove up through Alabama, and into the corner of Georgia.  We also passed back into Eastern time.  Of course, we were finally starting to get used to the Central time zone...

And back into the Appalachian mountains.

After a few miles, we were back in Tennessee again.  Luke joked, "Volunteer? More like Voluntold."

We finally arrived at our hotel and got ourselves settled in.  Our room overlooks the Tennessee River, but the window glass was in the way.  I ran downstairs to catch the sun setting.

We haven't decided exactly what we are doing tomorrow.  That will be our breakfast discussion - I have a whole stack of brochures I've weeded through, but I'll pull out the ones on the short list and we'll decide!

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