I didn’t know there would be so many places to see in Alabama that I didn’t already see last time I went there with Springhouse. In fact, there were so many places to see and acknowledge that it would take at least a hundred pages to fully write them all down.
One highlight was when we split into groups to walk around Montgomery. Our plan was to search for as many murals as we could find. The group I was in went a little off plan but in the best way. After finding some murals, we also found a print shop not unlike Springhouse’s print shop, where I am currently apprenticing. It was inspiring to see another print shop like ours, old-fashioned and creative. This print shop was much bigger. I have to admit I found the giant printing machines a little scary because, used without caution, they can be dangerous. Seeing this print shop stood out to me because it was exciting and completely unplanned, but another unplanned thing happened that was even more important.
As we were walking around we came across a bookshop that we decided to walk into. Inside, the bookshop had a cozy feeling. Naturally, it was full of books, many of which caught my eye. It also had some chairs and a couch. I am mentioning this because the couch turned out to have a very important history. Many leaders of the Civil Rights Movement had sat on this couch, including Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. The couch would have been thrown out if the bookstore hadn’t saved it. Sitting on this couch reminded me of how recent the Civil Rights Movement was.
Other Springhouse groups were also drawn to this bookshop, so we all got to see it. As I sat on the couch, the owner of the bookshop told us more about it and how most of her books were sold with the intention of spreading important messages. We told her about Springhouse and our print shop, and she seemed to be inspired by us. She also gave us advice for our print shop and was interested in helping us with it in the future.
Another important place we visited was the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum, focusing on the history of enslaved people, the Civil Rights Movement, the vast amount of people who have been lynched, and mass incarceration. I had been there last time with Springhouse and was very impacted by it, but this time I had more context so I was able to understand it better. Along with many other things that stood out to me, there was a memorial made by an artist that we would get to meet on Zoom the next day. The memorial was representing the two million people who had been kidnapped from Africa and died on the voyage.
The memorial was sculptures of the heads and shoulders of people. The sculptures showed that the people were clearly suffering. Behind them were waves projected onto the wall with an audio following it. Mirrors reflected them, making it look like they went on and on. This was the kind of memorial you can’t just walk past quickly, the kind of place that makes you feel pain even though I can not begin to imagine what kind of pain these people must have felt. We spent a long time at the museum so we could fully experience it. It was difficult seeing all of the pain, injustice, and how ignored this history is. I am grateful for this museum that shines light on this history, helping spread awareness about it.
After that, we visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which is a lynching memorial honoring all of the black people who had died brutally by being lynched. I had been here with Springhouse last time. This memorial was a large building with walkways that we walked along. Along the walkways were memorials.They were large metal rectangular boxes, most of which hung from the ceiling. Written on them were the names of people who had been lynched and where the lynching took place. At the end of the walkways was a fountain that honored all of the people who had been lynched and were forgotten in history. One thing that struck me was seeing how many people had been lynched in places I am familiar with, like seeing how many people had been lynched in Virgina, the state I live in. I don’t think I will ever forget this place that shows the vast amount of people who were lynched.
The next day, we met on Zoom with the artist of the sculptures. Before our conversion started, I was a little nervous – not because I was worried about anything but because I knew that I was about to be a part of something very important. The artist was very friendly and excited to share about his sculptures along with answering the questions we had. He encouraged us to ask uncomfortable questions because, as uncomfortable as they are, they are still very important. I found myself being engaged during our conversion. Along with feeling sad about the painful history, I also felt a sense of excitement about possible future plans which we discussed with the artist.
I am grateful for this trip and all the places we visited, including the Mothers of Gynecology Monument and the Southern Poverty Law Center. It was very meaningful for me to go back to Alabama and see new places along with places I’ve seen before. I learned a lot of very important knowledge that I will not forget.
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