Our last day in Montgomery the capital city of the State of Alabama found us walking around the downtown area to absorb some more of the history this town is known for.
What began as a settlement of the Alibamu and Coushatta Indians who lived on opposite sides of the Alabama River, Montgomery became the second largest city in Alabama as it is today. It was once a small town settled by the European-American settlers led by General John Scott and would become front and center in the late 1800’s. In the 1860’s when the Confederate States of America were formed Montgomery was named the first capital of the nation and Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as its President. We visited the beautiful house he and his family lived in and the church they attended. Retracing their steps to sites in front of the Capitol on Dexter Avenue where a general store once was on one side of the street to a tavern recently restored we had a feel for what life might have been like for them here before moving to Richmond, Virginia.
Next in April of 1865 General James Wilson captured Montgomery for the Union following the Battle of Selma. Prosperity became the norm after the war until the 1950-s and 1960’s when Montgomery became a hotbed of the civil rights movement. What started as a seemingly innocuous event on December 1, 1955 when a young lady named Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man and was immediately arrested, became the catalyst for another well known civil rights event, the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Here in the town of Montgomery a young charismatic man known as the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., then pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, helped organize the boycott. Shortly after, in the summer of 1956, the US District Court ruled that Montgomery's bus racial segregation was unconstitutional… and so began a legion of cultural changes to the way of life in Montgomery as well as the entire USA.
Several years later in 1965 Martin Luther King returned to Montgomery where he and other civil rights leaders helped organize the March to Montgomery Capitol Building to petition then Governor George Wallace to allow free voter registration. This event led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (back when Congress worked!) which enforced the rights of African Americans and other minorities to vote.
Our walk began and ended at the majestic stark white Capitol Building. Amazing that in one short walk one can see markers of not only the events of the Confederate inauguration of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate White House that he and his family lived in, the church they prayed in and yet on that same walk flash forward in history to the location where Rosa Parks waited for the bus, the parking lot for the gathering of the bus boycott and past the church where Martin Luther King once preached. It was truly incredible. Sadly we never got the sense that this town is as alive today as it must have once been many times before… It felt as if it is in decline as many buildings in the downtown area were shuttered and dilapidated. Even the impressive water sculpture in the heart of downtown had no water in it! So we left downtown with a feeling of sadness that a city of such historical significance has seemingly lost its way… and we hope maybe some future regrowth will find its way back to this part of the state of Alabama…
The next day we left Montgomery and drove about 150 miles south along state road 231 where we found a nice little Passport America Park to stay in until Sunday. We had hoped to stay somewhere nice along the beachfront so we are planning on using this stay at Pine Lake RV Park to find a place to stay for a week. No sooner than we had checked in and whipped up a fabulous dinner of almond crusted rainbow trout with wild rice and yellow squash casserole we scored a lucky break that landed us a week’s stay at St Andrews State Park in Panama City Florida. Our good fortune obviously came at some other poor person's expense as they must have had to cancel at last the moment. Sorry for their plans getting spoiled but it sure brightened up our future plans…