Tuesday, January 11, 2011 7:22 PM
Following Chapel bright and early this morning, the Interim group braved the cold to travel three hours to see civil rights sites in Montgomery, Alabama. On the way to Alabama, the group drove through Plains, Georgia, home of former President Jimmy Carter. We were even able to drive by his current home! The group began by visiting the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Civil Rights Memorial and Museum. Here students learned about the martyrs of the civil rights movement and about the cases that are yet to be solved. The museum also brings attention to other issues of hate that plague our society today. Following the Civil Rights Museum, the group visited the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the first and only church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. served as senior pastor. Here the students were able to learn more about the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Southern Christian Leadership Congress which met in the basement of the church, and touch Dr. King’s desk and the pulpit from which he preached. We also visited the parsonage where Dr. King lived with his family while he served as senior pastor at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. We were blessed to meet Shirley Cherry, tour director of the parsonage who helped us frame our visit with other important historical facts. As a retired school teacher, Ms. Cherry has a gift for telling stories; we saw this especially as she described the epiphany Dr. King had at his kitchen table when he felt God speak to him about his continued role in the civil rights movement. An additional surprise occurred when we had the opportunity to be joined on our tour by the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Richard Cohen! We were encouraged by the docents at the Southern Poverty Law Center to visit Selma, Alabama, to visit the important sites of the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March. The group visited a museum in Lowndes that gave additional insight to the events that lead up to the Selma to Montgomery March and the repercussions that African-Americans received when they did register to vote in Lowndes County. We then drove to Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the start of the Selma to Montgomery March and drove the route that the marchers took in 1965. We are very tired today but gained a lot of insight into the civil rights movement that we never knew before!