One of the most interesting parts of the day was our time in Alabama, where we had the opportunity to see a great deal of historical sites that one would never imagine were in such proximity. For starters, we visited the site on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus.
Further up the street closer to the Capitol Building of Alabama we had the opportunity to see the church where Dr. Martin Luther King Junior served as pastor. We also saw an impressive Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law center, making for quite the civil rights thread.
On the other hand, the City still preserves its confederate past. On the Capitol grounds is a confederate memorial and, in fact, Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as President of the Confederacy on the steps of the Alabama state capitol.
About a block away is the Confederate White House, the home in which Davis lived for part of his presidency during the Civil War.
Intriguingly, we had toured Davis’s private residence in Biloxi, MS, earlier in the day. The home, called Beauvoir, was impressive with extremely detailed interior designs that lined the walls and roof. The home was beautifully built with high ceilings, door-size windows and a spacious porch.
Biloxi also featured a most impressive lighthouse, which we were able to tour. This was my first time to go to the top of a lighthouse and although looking down the winding steps was scary once you reached the top it was completely worth it!
More generally, the Biloxi beach was a lot of fun and pretty, too. Following the destruction of Katrina, the City commissioned various tree sculptures—artistic creations from the dead or dying trees in the hurricane’s wake. There were tree sculptures of birds and fish. The weather was perfect! The sun was shining but the breeze was nice and cool.
On a more literary note, we were able to visit the court room featured in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. It was a wonderful experience to stand in the courtroom and be able to visualize all of the characters of the book. We learned about the making of the film and Harper Lee’s friend Truman Capote, the author of In Cold Blood, and a childhood friend of Lee’s–they both grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, where the museum is located.
The last part of the day involved mostly driving, a long stretch from Montgomery, AL to Savannah, GA—a leg that took us six hours to travel. The drive was enhanced by an in-van showing of To Kill a Mockingbird and a stop at a historical marker in Knoxville, Alabama, where Alexis de Tocqueville stopped in the early 1830s.
The next leg of our journey is in four hours—the GPSA in Savannah. It’s my first conference, and I better close this blog so I can usher in my conference experience having had a little rest.