Sunday, January 9, 2011
Day two-Snow in Birmingham.
Today was our second planned out day on the trip, and oh what an amazing day it was. We started the day out by attending a service at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. This was the church that Martin Luther King Sr. was a pastor at, and where MLK jr.'s maternal grandfather was a pastor as well. The church that we attended was not the original Ebenezer, it is across the street from the old one where Martin Luther King Sr. preached at. Anyways, the sermon and whole experience was amazing. It was everything I imagined of a southern baptist and southern hospitality. During the greeting portion of the service, almost every member in the church came up and shook our hands welcoming us to their church, it was so welcoming and wonderful. The music was also fantastic, it was provided by the all men's choir, and it was unbelievable.
After the service we went and saw the tombstone of Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King. Over this experience, I've learned so much about Coretta Scott King and her amazing achievements, and I was glad that I could have more of an understanding of her importance and influence when honoring her presence. Their tombstone is beautiful, surrunded by water, almost as if they're floating.
After the tombstone visit, I took a tour of the birth house of MLK jr.. It was a beautiful home, and appeared very 'homey" even though it is now only a museum. The most interesting part of the day for me was something the tour guide told us in the birth home. He told us that at the time when MLK jr. was a child, it was the norm for children to be seen and not heard, but in the King household that was not the case. Everyday MLK Sr. had his 3 children read the newspaper from front to back, and then he would quiz them at the dinner table each night. If they did not know the answers, they were sent back to re-read it, if they still did not know the answer, they would not be allowed to eat dinner that night. I found this to just be the coolest thing I have ever heard. Guiding children to learn how to think critically when they are young, and have them form opinions, and learn about the world, fosters an appreciation and knowledge and can create a base for a socially aware adult and champion. I also contrasted the way MLK Sr. treated his children and what he taught them, to the way that white southerner's seemed to treat their children and their states of mind. It's amazing what knowledge can do to the way children think and live their lives as adults.
After the MLK sights, we drove the Birmingham Institute of Civil Rights. This museum was the best museum I have ever been too. The exhibits, the timelines, the video's, were all captivating and fascinating. Nothing was repetitive and nothing was boring. It was so sad to see the difference in conditions of black and white amenities. I can't imagine telling my child that they could not use the drinking fountain that didn't have a line, because they weren't the right color. The museum also had a section at the end that focused on social justice movements across the world, such as solidarity in Poland, Tiennaman Square in China, and Aparthide in South Africa. It's sad that the world cannot learn from one another and know that mistreatment of a group because of their race or religion is intolerable.
Tonight in my group discussion we had a great brief discussion about the role of religion and the movement. I think that the roles that the churches played as both places of worship, and political centers is great and intertwined. Because to me, we are all one in the eyes of God and it is so sad to me that we were not all seen as one in the eyes of the law and our neighbors. Religion, though it causes many wars and conflict, can also be the glue to bring strangers together and open the eyes of the blind who may have never seen the worth in a person because of their race before.
Unfortunately there is a snowstorm in Alabama, and their lack of snow removal equipment is forcing us to postpone tomorrows activities and hang out, oh well! At least we're all warm, safe, and not sleeping on the bus!