We did three things in Birmingham: we walked the Freedom Walk, we visited the 16th Street Baptist Church, and we spent a morning in the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
I don’t have any photos of the Institute, but let’s just say it is one of the most in-depth and informative museums I’ve been to – including those in Montgomery and Krakow. Its multi-media approach makes it both more interactive and more feeling, something decidedly needed in every conversation about civil rights.
Across the street is the Baptist Church made famous for all of the worst reasons of humanity – this is the site of the racially-motivated bombing that took the lives of the four young black girls (Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Denise McNair, and Carole Robertson) and injured many others. The church was used for meetings and rallies during the civil right era and also served as a location for teaching student nonviolence.
These two sites center the Birmingham’s Civil Rights District and serve as a grave reminder of where our society has been, where it is, and where it shouldn’t be allowed to return.
– M. Ray Hall