Monday, March 29, 2010

Civil Rights - Day Three

It would be hard to even get through all of today in detail without writing clear into dawn, and tomorrow. But, here goes:

Today, we traveled to Montgomery, Alabama and first saw the White House of the Confederacy. The home inhabited by Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. Montgomery was apparently the "cradle" of the confederacy, before it established it's "home" in Virginia.

Montgomery is also the state capitol, and we toured the original capitol building as it is now sanctioned as a historical building and museum. All of the state buildings were pristinely white (on the outside) and very crisp looking and gorgeous. And huge. The capitol itself wasn't actually even original, as they built the first one in the mid-1800's and it burned down only a year-and-a-half later. They then rebuilt on the same spot, however, the building was made with very few embellishments since the state had already spent all of their money on a capitol only a couple of years before. The only original embellishments were two spiral three-story staircases lining either side of the foyer. All of the rest of the decoration to the building was slowly added on it different eras according to the desires of different administrations.

We also took a walking tour of the city where we saw Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the only church where MLK held the post of senior pastor. It was also the location of many organizing events for the Civil Rights Movement, especially during the Montgomery Bus Boycotts. And speaking of that, we also went to the Rosa Parks Museum, and saw the actual bus stop where she was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white man.

But now, I want to move on to the part of today that was the most moving. In the afternoon, we visited the Civil Rights Memorial. This was a place that really made you feel something. It was created in part by Morris Dee's, one of the co-founders of the Southern Poverty Law Center when he discovered that young people hadn't heard of all the people who had lost their lives in the name of civil rights. It was designed by the same woman who designed the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. Historically, these deaths are significant. And on principle, the reasons for the murders of people like Emmitt Tille, or Medgar Evers, or William Lewis Moore and the way in which they were killed was appalling. And so pointless. The hatred is so maddening, and you really feel it when you visit this memorial.

To close, there is the one thing that struck me the most today: in one of the museums, I saw a plaque showing a prayer that Martin Luther King, Jr. prayed to God one evening when he was feeling disheartened. I should have taken a picture of it, because now I am trying to find it on the internet and haven't been able to. But anyway, he called out to God because he was feeling unsure of himself, unsure if he was doing the right thing since at the time things were going so badly. And then he said something about how he heard God speak to him saying how he was "never alone. No, never alone". The way he explained it was truly beautiful, and I was so struck by that because it made me think of how heavy the burden was that he was carrying. And it is easy to relate to uncertainty because I think we all experience it at one time or another. And, I know that I often times feel scared, and in those times, it's important for me to that I am never alone. It was a really good qoute by MLK that showed the vulnerability of this great leader, and gave one the sense of the weight he was carrying on his shoulders. And it made me feel grateful for God, and it made me feel grateful for the way that He can so powerfully work through people, and the way that He does.

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