I’ve been fortunate enough to have been on a tour of Alabama while I was in high school with a program at Hampton University. We did a short civil rights tour and headed to Tuskegee to look at the university. A couple of years ago, I went on an overnight trip to Birmingham and had some great BBQ. I was so excited that my friend Kent from WeAreBlackAndAbroad.com reached out to me about a potential press trip. I HAD to go!
Most of you probably know that I live in Atlanta. Many people think of Atlanta as the hub of the civil rights movement because Martin Luther King, Jr. lived here but in reality, most of the pivotal moments at this time happened in Alabama. I’m sure you know about some of these incidences. Luckily, we had Dr. Glenn Askew , a history professor from Georgia State, along with us for the journey. He was very resourceful and very well respected by everyone we came in contact with. He knew everything and he was there for any tough questions we had.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was the pastor at Dexter Baptist Church which is at the foot of the capital building in Montgomery, Alabama. He was there from ’54-’59 and lived in the house designated to the pastor of that church. We got a chance to tour his house next door to the Dexter Parsonage House with the lovely Dr. Cherry. Dr. Cherry was one of the best tour operators I have ever seen. She kept us engaged, was super witty, and made us emotional at the same time. She shared her personal stories of growing up during the civil rights movement and knew EVERYTHING about the house.
Being in the house with many of the original items was amazing to see. It was almost surreal. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had meetings in that house, protected his family in this house, and promoted peace outside his home after someone threw a bomb,
I sat at the same table MLK prayed and pondered about moving back to Atlanta after things started getting tough.
You can still see the dent from the bomb that was thrown at his house while his friend, family friend and child were there.
Dr. Cherry did an amazing job of telling us the history of the house in a way that captured the audience. We were all into hearing different stories about Montgomery in the 60’s.
We headed to the Alabama Department of Archives and History next in downtown Montgomery. The building was massive and showcased the history of Alabama from the Natives to current day automobile industry. This gave me a great overall look at the state. I learned many things like Alabama was the richest state in the south during slavery, because…cotton. Definitely make sure you take a couple of hours to explore. It is so much information and you want to make sure you can really read and take everything in.
Tour the Alabama Archives and find more information here.
Stay tuned for part 2: Selma, Part 3: Birmingham, and Part 4: Where To Stay & Eat In Alabama