Tuesday we spent, once more, in Birmingham, but this time our visit was more focused, on the Civil Rights struggle and this took us to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute where we began with one of three civil rights walks, that tracing the route of marchers to the downtown business district in 1963. After that we visited Kelly Ingram Park, one of the sites from where the marches and protests were staged and where today there is an incredibly moving statue that memorializes the four children who were killed at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, just across the street, on September 15, 1963.
|Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the third of our Civil Rights museums|
|Three walking tours commemorate the struggle. The first station|
|The final station of the "retail" march downtown|
|The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church|
From there we went into the Institute and experienced another superb museum, one that gave us a better understanding of not just the movement and the struggle but of this still-troubled city.
And that may be enough to say, except that both of us found our visit to Birmingham unsettling.
The city begun in 1873 as an avatar of the “New South” ended up as the most segregated city in America by the 1950s and today seems a shell. I say this not to offend anyone but with a sense of regret. In many ways Birmingham reflects the failure of American to realize Dr. King’s Dream.