Saturday, April 18, 2015

Third piece of public art commemorating Voting Rights March, Montgomery, Alabama

The third Voting Rights March sculpture

I finally found the third sculpture! In a deserted intersection called Five Points, near downtown Montgomery. No wonder I had trouble finding it!
Back in the day, 1965, it was on the route the marchers traveled from the City of St. Jude to the State Capitol.

If you compare this to the sculpture at St. Jude, you will see this is the "cut out" section of the other one. It is polished to reflect the person or persons looking at it, to put yourself in the scene, so to speak. (I stood to side as I took this, so as not to capture my reflection. I did take another one with my reflection. It's on Flickr, if you must see it.)

I will now edit the original post, Thoughts on 50th Anniversary to include this photo.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mystery Trip

The senior adult group, "Forever Young" occasionally goes on a "mystery trip," a one-day trip led by the senior adult minister. He told no one where we were going, not even the bus drivers! (Well, he probably told someone in case of an emergency, our pastor, or his wife, or someone.)

We met at the church bright and early, had a prayer and boarded the buses. Our first stop was for breakfast in Clanton. Then north up I-65, through Birmingham and on into Cullman County. The guesses were rampant: Ave Maria Grotto, Ala. Music Hall of Fame, Ivy Green, Space and Rocket Center. We were all wrong.
Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015
Stopped briefly at a rest stop on I-65

Were we surprised when we pulled off the road into a field with a few horse stables and large silos!
Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015

Then we saw the sign, "Rattlesnake Saloon." A saloon! A group of Baptist retirees at a saloon! What's the world coming to?! We piled into the back of the "saloon taxi" - a pickup truck with bench seating - and drove down (literally down!) a steep, curvy dirt road to a cave with tables and chairs and a small building on the side.
Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015
In the "Saloon Taxi"

Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015
Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015

Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015

This was the Rattlesnake Saloon. The food was simple but good, with extremely large servings. (Pepsi and sweet tea to drink, for us) I don't think anyone was able to finish their meal. Everything was cowboy themed, and we were entertained by a singer (country/western). Back up the hill, we looked around a bit. The saloon is a part of the Seven Springs Lodge and is located in 20,000 acres. There are campsites for RVs or tents, facilities for guests' horses, and miles of riding trails. The large silos are "cabins" with comfortable looking beds and furniture, attractive rugs and pictures on the walls. The lodge office was decorated with cowhide and snake skins and taxidermy specimens (a wolf and otters and beavers.) There is a carving shop and a Cowboy Church. It was a very interesting place!
Rattlesnake Saloon/Seven Springs Lodge

We weren't finished yet; we had one more stop before heading back home. Again we were totally surprised when we turned off onto a road called Coon Dog Road, and marked by a sign pointing to the Coon Dog Cemetery! Coon Dog Cemetery

Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015
Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015
Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015

It was time to start heading back home, south to Montgomery, about a four hour drive. First, we stopped at a Love's Truck Stop for fuel (and rest stop). In north Jefferson County, just before reaching Birmingham, the buses in front of us unexpectedly pulled off the road and onto an off-ramp. Blown out tire! We don't think it was a coincidence that a state ASAP (road rescue) vehicle was within sight! After considerable effort, he was able to get the tire changed and to check another tire that had been worrying the driver. So, we then made it through Birmingham and into Shelby County (still in the B'ham Metro area) before pulling off the road again (!) What now?? Another blown tire on the same bus!! We got to a gas station with a mini-mart. This time they had to call AAA for the bus, and all the passengers made supper from hot dogs, crackers, chips, ice cream and doughnuts. (I had a couple bites of a bratwurst "dog," a container of chocolate milk, and a Klondike (ice cream) bar, and husband had a 1/2 bag of pork rinds, a diet Coke, and the rest of my "dog" as well as a couple bites of my Klondike bar.) People were getting tired and a little cranky, but some still had their humor. One lady was celebrating her birthday that day. I sarcastically wished her a "happy birthday" at the gas station, and she said it was one she will never forget, "it was a real blow-out!"
We were all grateful to God that these mishaps were nothing worse than a frustrating inconvenience, and not a tragedy. We all arrived safely at home about 11:00 that night, except the two ministers who stayed with the ailing bus until it was fixed. Each of the other 3 buses took 3 or 4 of the passengers.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Trayvon Martin, a tragic event

(This entry was first written last June, but for reasons I have forgotten, I failed to publish it then.)

I admit I haven't been keeping up with the case closely. I was not there; I don't know the details and I did not hear the evidence presented to the jury. 

I will say I was saddened that a man could shoot and kill an unarmed teenager and leave the court a free man. He may have thought he was shooting in self defense, but he did fail to follow police orders to stay in his car and let them (police) handle the situation. I believe George Zimmerman should be held accountable. 

There are pictures and stories going around the internet that show Trayvon Martin as practically a gangster, with dreadlocks and a history of drug use and dealing. I don't know what's truth and what's rumor. I do know that it is not against the law for a teenage boy to walk from the store to his father's house, even if his hairstyle is dreadlocks and his clothing choice was a hoodie.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Thoughts on 50th anniversary of Voting Rights March

Bridge crossing sculpture
(One of three artworks in Montgomery, Alabama commissioned to honor the Voting Rights Marches of 1965)

This month we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

There were three marches; the first took place on Sunday, March 7, 1965. John Lewis and Hosea Williams led a few hundred civilians from a Selma church, Brown Memorial AME Chapel, to the Edmond Pettus Bridge, with the intention of crossing the Alabama River and marching to Montgomery, the state capital, for the purpose of demonstrating the injustice of being denied equal right to vote. They were met by Alabama State Troopers who demanded that they turn back and return to the church. Before they could respond, the troopers began beating them with billy clubs, spraying them with tear gas, and running into them on horseback. It was a dreadful scene; photos appeared in newspapers nationally and on TV news. Later, this event became known as "Bloody Sunday." It is a miracle that no one was killed, but several were severely injured.

Video from Los Angeles Times

The second march took place two days later. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a group of pastors from around the country. They marched to the bridge, prayed, and turned back to the church when met by troopers.

Meanwhile, the Federal court issued an order that the peaceful march would be allowed, and the marchers would be escorted and protected by federal militia. On March 21, the third march began in Selma, which is in Dallas County, through Lowndes County, and into Montgomery County and the city of Montgomery, Alabama, a trip of 54 miles. Twenty-five thousand people arrived in front of the state capitol on March 25 to hear a stirring speech by Dr. King. The Voting Rights Act was passed by Congress and signed into law on August 6, 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

(Along the way, the marchers, 300 strong, marched in the rain and camped in muddy fields. Their final campsite was on the grounds of the City of St. Jude in Montgomery, an organization of the Roman Catholic Church which at that time included a school and a hospital. Now it is used for social services and has apartments for senior adults on the grounds. The photo above is of one of the three sculptures in Montgomery commemorating the marches. This sculpture is on the campus of St. Jude.)

Mural commemorating Selma Bridge Crossing
(This mural is on a building on Montgomery Street, downtown Montgomery, AL.)

The third Voting Rights March sculpture
(This sculpture is in the center of an intersection near downtown Montgomery called Five Points, at the intersection of Montgomery Street, Clayton Street, Mobile Street, and Goldthwaite Street. I couldn't find it until several weeks after I wrote this entry, and am editing it to include the photo.)

About the Civil Rights sculptures “The one at the City of St. Jude,” said Barrett Bailey, “will be made to look weathered and rusted. It's meant to show the difficulties and struggles the marchers faced. As people make their way closer to the State Capitol, the other one will be shiny. It's meant for people to be able to see their reflection, to see themselves in the footsteps of the marchers.”

Eyes on the Prize, from Public Television's American Experience
Selma to Montgomery Marches, Wikipedia article

What has changed in fifty years? We are very different; because of the struggle for civil rights and subsequent legislation to ensure it, Americans of all races and colors now attend school together and hold jobs in every sector. Americans of every race and color are elected to public office and hold high and not-so-high positions in local, state, and federal government.
However, there is still a great deal of poverty and crime, and educational skills are generally lower among African Americans than among whites. The public schools have been desegregated, but resegregated by default as many white parents have moved out of cities into suburbs (although with equal housing, wealthier African Americans can also move) or are enrolling their children into private schools (which do accept children of color, but there are few of them). So, instead of white and "colored" public schools, many areas have predominantly black inner city schools and predominantly white private and suburban schools. Recent incidents throughout the nation show that prejudice and discrimination still exist, not only in the south but nationwide. We still have a long way to go.

There has been some talk in favor of changing the name of the Edmond Pettus Bridge. Edmond Pettus was a Brigadier General in the American Civil War for the Confederacy and later became a leader in the Ku Klux Klan. Many feel that his name should not be honored along with those who suffered for the cause of equal rights for all. I say that the name "Edmond Pettus" no longer stands for hatred and bigotry, but for freedom and justice. I daresay that most Americans today, when we hear the name "Edmond Pettus Bridge," think of Bloody Sunday, the Selma to Montgomery March, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.