Despite its quiet and peaceful air today, Montgomery has a bloody history as the center of the slave trade in the south, the terminus for trains bringing thousands in from the north (international slave trading had been abolished in 1804) and the site of many slave markets.
It's impossible to really get a grip on your emotions when you're faced with something as horrific, meaningful and powerful as the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, otherwise known as the National Lynching Memorial. Located on a small hill in downtown Montgomery - visible from both the courthouse and the Capitol - it commemorates over 4,400 documented lynchings that took place between 1877 and 1950. Some sources put the total number of such state-tolerated murders at over 50,000, in a systematic reign of terror intended to keep black people subservient and cowering after slavery was technically abolished.
The memorial consists of over 400 steel columns, one for each county where a lynching has been documented, each engraved with the names of the victims (where known) and the date. It is very sobering to see dates within one's own lifetime. Not to mention the innocuous names of these places: Sunflower County, St. Mary Parish, etc. The columns are suspended from the roof; the path descends as you walk through the columns, until they are suspended above you, as bodies from a tree. Plaques on the wall describe some of the astonishingly, revoltingly trivial actions used to justify the murders. "Walked behind a white woman." "Protested when a white man stole his shovel."
A second set of identical columns lies outside the memorial. Any county that acknowledges its role in the lynchings and can demonstrate steps it has taken to improve civil rights may claim its column for installation at the county seat. Several discussions are under way; none have yet been claimed. And Alabama's state constitution, symbolically now because it's been banned at the federal level, still allows for school segregation.
Click on any photo to enlarge.
Our road trio through the South continued into Alabama, first with a stop at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham to check out their astonishing display of 1,600 motorcycles, and then on to Montgomery to catch up on our civil rights history. Neither of us had been here before, and while our main interest was to see the Peace and Justice Memorial (which will be the subject of my next post) we were quite taken with Montgomery as a city. As with many state capitals, and despite its turbulent and horrific past, it seemed a relatively small, quiet place with some interesting architecture - traditional and rustic! - and very friendly people.
As always, click on any image to see it full-screen.
Good news - my 2019 calendar just came back from the printer and is available for purchase! This year's theme is "Bridges"; the calendar contains 12 images of bridges in the US and Europe that highlight their fascinating variety, from multi-mile feats of engineering to delicate wooden structures in a Japanese garden. Check it out and place your orders now!
I also took the opportunity to refresh the site galleries. Since I was clearly having trouble maintaining a "Gallery of the Month", I scrapped that concept and replaced it with a gallery of "Recent Additions". This first version showcases a wide variety of subjects that have caught my eye over the past year, from my usual aerial perspectives to images of both the natural and the constructed worlds. Please take a look and let me have your comments!
Back in the air again! This was the opening leg of a two-week road trip through several southern states we hadn't visited yet on our way to seeing all 50. Our original plan was to fly to Charlotte and drive to Charleston, but Hurricane Florence coming directly at us on that path suggested a re-route to Atlanta! American was very helpful in re-booking us via DFW.
Airport taxiway and runway markings continue to interest and amuse me; this one at SeaTac seemed pretty self-evident!
The flight to Dallas was straightforward, the landscape as always fascinating in its complexity and textures. The mountain ridges of Utah were intriguing, but the smoke from a massive forest fire provided a whole new perspective on the power of nature.
The cloudscapes coming into Dallas were at their Texan dramatic best! Flying in the canyons between huge cloud mountains remains one of my most exhilarating experiences.
Changing flights in DFW gave us ample time to watch a massive storm brewing nearby; that cloud tripled in size in twenty minutes. Colorful taxiway markings seemed to me to have been gift-wrapped by the cracks in the concrete! Once airborne, the muted colors of an east Texas dusk were very peaceful.