This is day 3 of our trip to Birmingham. Where we are staying (Cahaba) is a beautiful, lush area complete with trees, restaurants, shops and hotels. It is a far cry from what I imagined the area to be like. We have not see the "other side" of the city yet. I am sure there are areas where the big city life has taken its toll on the landscape and people. Yesterday we visited Vulcan Park and Museum. Vulcan is named for the Roman god of iron, which is a natural resource of the region. In the museum a display addressed the rise and fall of Birmingham in the 1900's. Iron made the area explode with industry and population. The Great Depression brought the nation's highest unemployment rate (100,000 out of 108,000 workers were said to be without jobs). Needless to say, many people suffered through that time in this region. Then the war regenerated the area with the increased need for iron and its byproducts.
Part of the display commemorated the Civil Rights movements during the 1960's. What a tumultuous time that was for the country and especially the South.
After seeing the museum, we went downtown. Sidewalk placards marked the path of the civil rights march in Birmingham. Each sign featured a famous quote from someone describing the fight for racial equality. I would have liked to have walked the entire path, but that is not something that generally interests young children. I did see enough to get a feel for the history of the march. It dawned on me just how far our nation has come in the last 50 years. It is hard to believe that about the time I was born, black citizens in the south could not drink out of the same water fountain as whites or attend school together or even exercise their constitutional rights. It makes me both proud and sad to be an American born in this century. Proud that we have changed the world, sad that people had to suffer and struggle so to accomplish equal rights.
I will not forget being here and seeing places that changed the face of our country.