Posts Tagged ‘civil rights’

Jacqueline Smith

Apr 28

I can’t cover all of Charlie’s Angels, but when I get the opportunity, who am I to turn it down? 

Y’all met Kate Jackson earlier in Birmingham Alabama; which, all things considered, seems like a distant memory.  I pause now to reread my own post from several weeks ago, and encourage you to do the same.

Back to Jacqueline Smith. Any true fan of the Angels or of K-Mart will notice that this is not the spelling of the name of the actress and fashion designer. So what Jacqueline Smith am I talking about?  Well, Rob and I went to the Lorraine motel, where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed in 1968.  It’s now the National Civil Rights Museum, and has been for many years.  As many years as Ms. Smith has been protesting its existence on a corner across the street from it. 

She was working as a maid at the motel at the time King was assassinated.  Afterwards, the owner of the motel kept the building, maintained it as working motel, but with one difference: he did not touch King’s room, which remained as it was the day of the assassination. 

But what of Ms. Smith?  In 1982, when the motel foreclosed and it was eventually turned into the museum it is today, Ms. Smith, who was living there as part of her payment for being an employee, was evicted.  She didn’t like that.  Not one bit.

And so, the vigil began.  Her neighbo(u)rhood of low-income housing was being turned into museums and more expensive buidlings.  She believed that these changes violated the message of Martin Luther King.  She wants to preserve his legacy. 

And so, every day, for 20 some odd years, all day and well into the night, she stands across the street at her corner with large banners of protest, selling books and fiddling with her cell phone, encouraging everyone to stay away from the National Civil Rights Museum.

Despite talking to her, I did not really get any of the information above from her.  The more lucid parts of this post I was able to cull off of the internet.  I guess after 20 years of protest on the street would make anyone lose focus.

Ebony and Ivory

Apr 20

I have to say, Montgomery is the most historically opposed and interesting city I have ever been to.  Where else can you find a wealth of landmarks dedicated to the Confederacy, right alongside those noble benchmark achievements of the civil rights movement?  In a matter of blocks and minutes, you can stand on the very spot where Jefferson Davis was sworn in as President of the Confederate States, and then sit on the very bench where Rosa Parks waited for the bus ride that would change the course of history? 


Montgomery also boasts the first White House of the Confederacy, where you can very freely roam the grounds and look around.  In contrast, follow the trail of the march from Selma to Montgomery which helped define the struggle for human rights.  Every turn leads you to a different relevent, fascinating piece of history.  It’s almost overwhelming.

The Capital building is a stunning momument to this greatly conflicted state.  There are even a few surprises on the grounds, like a statue to Dr. J. Marion Sims, considered to be the father of modern genecology. 

But even odder than our good doctor, and certainly farther reaching, was this find.

Why is Rob wrapped around this tree in a rapture of love?  Because, this is a Moon Tree.  That’s right.  The seeds that were used to grow this tree were brought aboard the Apollo 14 flight to the moon.  Amazing.  With all of its contrasts, it’s really a tree from the moon that brings us all together.

Truly, Montgomery is the gift that keeps on giving.