• Megan Frye

Alabama: Where America's history is on full display




Montgomery, Alabama sits on the wide Alabama River in what was once territory of the Creek - native people forced westward in an effort to expand the US as a nation of white supremacy. Enslaved Africans were brought by boats into the city from the Gulf of Mexico and sold at auction downtown. Cotton was king and enslaved people built the empire of the United States. The reconstruction era following the Civil War saw a period of economic depression that never fully turned upward in most places, and was worsened yet by the Great Depression. Since then, shops in downtown have gone through many hands and though some are empty, they are in relatively good condition. It was on this street that Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in 1955. It was here that black people and white people used different drinking fountains, bathrooms and, of course schools. It was in the Jim Crow South that thousands of African-Americans were lynched by white racist hate. The history is dense and horrific. But it was also here that Dr. King led thousands of parishioners and community members to peaceful protest against the unimaginable. Developers have moved slowly in bringing new business to the city of 200k+ people. The former capital of the Confederacy now receives the majority of its tourism at various Civil Rights monuments which occupy former slave auction sites, Confederate Army sites and cotton warehouses. This is a town of living history. Humankind at its most bleak and devastating and the triumph of a community committed to having the conversation of racial inequality that seems to be taboo in other parts of this pained, unjust and unfathomably complex country. A land which I find to be defiantly stunning, if not completely devastating.

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