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Entries about civil rights

Sweet Home Alabama

Where the skies weren't so blue

sunny 86 °F

Alabama is also somewhat boring. It's lovely, in the way that many of the other states we've been through thus far have been lovely: Lush, green. But there's less variation. There's no thrill of rising mountains or the illusion seeing forever across flat farm lands. Maybe we've been spoiled. It isn't Alabama's fault that we've already experienced 11 states before it. But there's something very sad and sleepy that permeates the air around here and I don't mean the humidity.
In Montgomery, we head to the First White House of the Confederacy, where Jefferson Davis lived before the Confederate capital removed to Richmond, Virginia. We pay for 36 minutes of parking and successfully tour the entire house in that time span. The tour is self guided with little copy paper printed booklets. The lighting is dim, reminiscent of gas lamps, and the air smells old. The interior of the house is gorgeous, filled with artifacts and relics from Jefferson Davis and family, as well as the Confederacy as a whole. I'm really glad that we went. I think it's important to learn all aspects of history, especially those parts that people are uncomfortable with. I recommend going if you're near Montgomery (which you probably aren't, but if you're in Atlanta, you're close enough). Admission is free and the Civil War was kind of a big defining point of the character of the US.

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After the FWHC, we head to downtown Montgomery. It's almost like a ghost city. Shops are open from 11-2, and are closed for the day. Workers park in the middle of the wide boulevards. A lot of properties are for sale, and look like they have been for sometime. We're near Court Square, where slaves, goods, and land were auctioned off and where Rosa Parks boarded her bus home from work and refused to sit in the back. The march on Selma went through this square. Sit-ins happened at the now defunct cafes and department stores. The Square, devoid of people, is peppered with historical markers. Near the bus stop where Rosa Parks boarded her bus, there is a small park and a bible is a glass case, opened to Psalms.

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Leaving Montgomery, we opt to get off the interstate and onto local highways. The drive is immediately more visually interesting. I-64 has almost no views of anything around in thanks to tree banks flanking the sides. On the local highways, we are routed through towns, can see logging operations, and cattle farms. And several dozen churches. And the occasional Confederate flag. We are well and truly in the Bible Belt and Deep South, and now we can at least catch a glimpse of how people here live. Part of the off-the-interstate operation is to pick up Florida. We stop in the town of Century, at a supermarket just past the Welcome to Florida sign. We have no choice, Shari says. We need a picture with the sign. So we walk through long grass and red clover and take dumb photos with the sign. And then we walk across the highway to the Alabama state line sign, and take pictures with that sign, too. Truckers and other drivers honk as they pass. We get back en route to Mobile, Alabama.

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Mobile is larger than I anticipated and driving over wide waterways is surreal. We stop in the downtown area. Mardigras bead tangle in the tree branches. There's a community garden and a cathedral from 1835. While admiring the architecture, a man stops us and shows us his stab wounds. "Gnarly," I say because I don't know what else to say. Shari and I look at each other and move quickly around the rest of the block to the car.
We are now safe in our hotel room, a good half hour from downtown Mobile. We'll be up early tomorrow to take on New Orleans. Thanks to Central Time, we gained an hour, and I'm tired from this 25 hour day.

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Posted by MiriG 19:48 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip history alabama florida highways civil_war montgomery lower_48 long_day first_white_house_of_the_confed civil_rights Comments (0)

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