Noah and Miranda
We went to the Rosa Parks Museum near Troy University in Montgomery Alabama.
We just went on a tour about the events and there also was a re-enactment of when Rosa Parks was arrested. All of us learned a lot of new things about the story of Rosa Parks and about her protest. The museum was very well put together with lots of interactive exhibits. Hearing Rosa Parks’ own words made it very special.
Today we went to the Southern Poverty Law Center and we saw a very cool exhibits. They had great pins for free also. I got some to put on my lanyard. One example was when we went into a room where there were plaques and it showed us many people who died fighting for civil rights who are not famous in any way. In Morah Marcy’s class, we had learned about some of them. I studied a man named O’Neill Moore and I got to see him on the plaque.
When we first came to the lynching memorial we saw signs that told us information about the different lynchings. It was very hot and it was sometimes difficult to read the signs. Some of us took pictures of them so we could read them later. Then, we stepped into an unusual building with an open roof and huge metal plaques everywhere hanging on wide poles with the names of the people who were lynched, the names of the counties and states that they were lynched in, and the dates that they were lynched. These plaques are metal and our docent says that when it rains, it looks like red tears are falling.
On the walls of one of the hallways there were descriptions of why the people had been lynched. The reasons why the different people had been lynched were very weak and sometimes ridiculous. It could just be that a black man looked funny at a white woman. At the memorial we met with a woman, Miss Josephine McCall, who was the daughter of one of the victims of the KKK. Her father, Mr. Elmore Bolling, was targeted because he made more money than the average white man. She said that she remembered the shots that killed her father when she was in her father’s store. I thought her story was very depressing especially because she was only five years old at the time.
Eydan and Tav
For our last exhibit, we visited The Museum of Peace and Justice: Slavery to Mass Incarceration. This is set on what was a sacred burial ground for the Creek Indian Nation. It was then a slave warehouse where people were kept like farm animals while they waited to be auctioned. At the start of the self-guided tour there was a tiny exhibit that was multiple cells with people projected in them (holograms) and it was trying to get us into the mood because the holograms spoke as if they were waiting for the auctions and it showed us how it was frightening and sad.
After this exhibit there was a series of other photos and movies. One of them had a time line in it explaining how slavery came to be and how it ended and how it changed over time to allow everyone to have equal rights. However, even today some people don’t have equal rights. People are still racist and are segregationist and don’t want black people in their community.
One other exhibit was showing us people who were lynched. They were murdered for many reasons. There were jars filled with dirt that was collected from places that people were lynched. We saw the jar that was from Elmore Bolling, Ms. McCall’s father. We took a photograph of that jar because it really meant something because we had just seen his daughter. Sad.
A lot of us liked the interactive map that showed how many lynchings were done in which state and then it listed the names of the people in the counties. Some of the counties had white dots and when they were clicked it described the incident in detail. The stories were horrible.
Even though most of the lynchings were in the south, they also happened in New York and Michigan. That was something we didn’t know.
Part of the museum is about mass incarceration today. One video was of a jail in Alabama. The video showed how it was unfair to the people in the jail and also some of the people that went to the jail were falsely accused and found guilty anyways. Near the video there was an interactive section that had phones. When we picked up the phone, we heard the story of someone who went to jail and then was found innocent. One man was in jail for 30 years and then exonerated.
After a 90 minute bus ride, and a stop for ice cream, we arrived back in Birmingham for our dinner, three last presentations by Sarah and Ben, Miranda and her partner, and Zohar and his partner – were all great.
We made a closing circle and the teachers rushed us to say goodbyes because our drivers were waiting. It was strange saying bye to people who we didn’t know a week ago but had become friends with. People shared emails etc. and we look forward to seeing them again. We will probably Zoom with them again very soon. (Next week??)
It was a very emotional day for all of us. Meeting people who were actually there when these horrible events happened was different than learning about them in a classroom.
Rabbi Amanda and Morah Marcy
It is indeed weird to have had this emotional day with new friends (who now seem like old friends) while learning about events that made us all think and reflect deeply. We hope that you will ask your child/ren about the trip, showing them the blog to jog their memories (if necessary). In our experience, generally they will tell you about the friends they made, the funny incidents that happened, and about the food! When they have had a good night’s sleep, please ask them about their impressions of the week and the things we saw and did. We will send them a survey so that they can give their feedback to us, but there’s no comparison than talking with your parent/s about experiences. Their feedback will be invaluable as we evaluate this trip and plan for the next one!
We owe an incredible debt of gratitude to Lynn Raviv, a woman of great vision, stamina and patience. She planned all the logistics of the trip and kept us moving, even when a little nap might have seemed good. The principal of the Birmingham Day School, Debra Abolafia, helped to ensure our home-away from-home school was perfect for our needs. This is despite the fact that they had classes in session, parent teacher conferences, and Shavuot plays happening at the same time.
Our team of teachers worked extremely well together. Carolyn from North Carolina, David and Scott from Rochester and our team collaborated very well. There were times when even without speaking, one of us knew what the other needed and just did it. We could not have made this trip work so well without Ed and Julie. Both of them worked very hard and we hope their families will go easy on them this weekend. They constantly asked us if we needed anything and we never said no.
We hope you have enjoyed hearing about our experiences. Almost the entire blog was your children’s words. Occasionally, we edited for grammar and some content but you should all be proud of how articulate your children are becoming.
See you all tomorrow afternoon.
Morah Marcy and Rabbi Amand