Day 69 - Civil Rights MovementJune 30 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 21 °C
We rushed down to breakfast at 8.45am, only to find 2 large black women were making waffles for each of their 11 queuing kids who were blocking access to the rest of the breakfast items. After 5 minutes of waiting they were still blocking the way, so we forced our way in & grabbed a coffee & packet of cereal. This was not an ideal start for the day I had planned!
Our first stop of the day was Walmart to try & get a new SD card reader, which I couldn’t, but we left with a chicken wrap, an orange bundt cake & mini donuts. Our initial route should have been across country to Selma, but annoyingly the SatNav got us on Interstate 65 & heading north before we could turn off at Letohatchee. We followed Alabama 97 through Hayneville to Lowndesboro, then headed west on Highway 80 to Selma.
Selma, Alabama was the starting point for 3 African American Civil Rights Movement Marches to the State Capital, Montgomery. These Marches captured the attention of the entire nation & resulted in a decisive shift in the American conscious. The Marches started at Brown Chapel AME, where Martin Luther King Jr used to preach.
The 1st March was on 7th March 1965, but when they crossed Edmund Pettus Bridge they were beaten back by Police with batons & teargas. It was a brutal attack that became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’.
The 2nd March was 2 days later, led by MLK, they again crossed Edmund Pettus Bridge, but turned back so not to breach an injunction.
The 3rd March took place on 21st March 1965. This time they walked back over Edmund Pettus Bridge & along Highway 80, arriving 54 miles later at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery on 24th March 1965, with their numbers having swollen to 25,000.
We crossed Edmund Pettus Bridge (incidentally named after Edmund Winston Pettus, a former Confederate brigadier general, Democratic U.S. Senator, and grand wizard of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan) into Selma. Selma was pretty run down, we drove around the sites of interest, Brown Chapel AME, The Slavery & Civil War Museum & generally around the Historic District.
We crossed back over Edmund Pettus Bridge & stopped at the Civil Rights Memorial Park. A young black lad came over & informed us that his grandfather had lost an eye on Bloody Sunday & that he had cared for the Park until he died aged 89, last year. The Park was the scene of numerous lynchings of African Americans at the end of the 1800s & well into the 1900s. There were several plaques & monuments that we were able to look at before a whole bus load arrived.
We then drove the entire length of Highway 80 to Montgomery. Montgomery was a pleasant surprise, it was very nice, clean & quiet. We again drove round & located the numerous sites of interest including Alabama State Capitol & Rosa Parks Library, Museum & Arrest Site. I pulled up, in a no stopping zone, outside the Civil Rights Memorial Center to take a photo. Unfortunately there were a group of tourists in the way so I waited. The next thing we knew, there was a very loud tannoy announcement “Would the driver of the red VW Beetle please move. You are not allowed to stop”. I jumped out of my skin & drove off sharply.
Montgomery was not all about the Civil Rights Movement, it also laid claim to that Country & Western Singer, Hank Williams. It has a Museum for him, but we settled on visiting his statue & then his grave in Oakland’s Cemetery, where he is buried with his wife he divorced, Audrey Sheppard.
We then located a Best Buy, where I purchased a new SD card reader for the horrific sum of $29. Outrageous, but I needed one. We had a McDonald’s iced coffee to soothe my nerves.
Then it was back on Interstate 65 & to Clanton to look at the Big Peach Water Tower & another photo opportunity. We should have continued up the 65, but the SatNav re-routed us due to an accident. It took us east on Route 25 to a town called Columbiana, where we were diverted further due to a road closure for a street fair.
Our route took us to an affluent town called Chelsea, where again we encountered road closures for a big social event. The diversion was totally congested, so we decided to navigate our own route. This didn’t go to well, but eventually we ended up back on Interstate 65 at Pelham, now way behind schedule.
Next stop was Birmingham, Alabama & it appeared to be a ghastly industrial city. Are all Birmingham’s throughout the world the same?
We found the Historic District & circled Kelly Ingram Park. The park itself looked nice with lots of interesting statues, but there were a whole load of vagrant types hanging around & it didn’t seem wise to get out & walk round. Instead we drove to the Vulcan Statue, the Largest Cast-Iron Statue In The World. It was a bit of a monstrosity, so we just took a photo from the car park.
By now it 6.30pm & the SatNav told us that our final intended destination for the day was 127 miles away. So for the next 2 hours, often in rain, we drove along Interstate 22 to Tupelo in Mississippi. I should say that generally the people of Alabama & most towns, except of what we saw of Birmingham, were very pleasant. It dispelled some of preconceived ideas about the State.
During this leg of the journey, we were trying to decide on a suitable song of the day. I asked Jackie to play MLK by U2. Jackie took offence when I asked her what MLK stood for, then she reluctantly blurted out “Martha Luther King”. Excellent.....the history lessons are going well on this trip!
Talking of general knowledge, without cheating, does anyone know what Tupelo is famous for?
We arrived in Tupelo around 8:30pm, but we drove round & finally selected the Red Roof Inn around 9.00pm. Whilst driving through a puddle in the car park, I managed to crunch the bottom of the front bumper again. I also managed to annoy the receptionist by proving her wrong about the room rates on Booking.com. We saved ourselves about $6. Every dollar counts!
We couldn’t be bothered to eat, so went to our room for wine & a few nuts. Jackie’s mission continued to sort out the increasing damage to Doodle, but she now thinks we are insured on my travel insurance. Fingers crossed.
Song of the Day - Glory by Common & John Legend.
Bonus Songs of the Day :-
Marching On by The Alarm
Police Oppression by Angelic Upstarts
MLK by U2Read more