We have let Waze help us find our destinations, and wonderfully we’ve been off superhighways throughout most of the Panhandle of Florida and through Alabama and Mississippi. What a way to see this part of our country: its surprising emptiness, its beauty, its real poverty, the ubiquitous Dollar General stores, and always, kind people behind a counter at a gas station.
Yesterday we left the pleasantness of our friend’s Airbnb (thank you, Ned Horton!) on Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, and drove to Montgomery, Alabama. Ever since hearing Bryan Stevenson speak in Boston and seeing a 60 Minutes segment about his passion to create The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, we have wanted to visit this powerful memorial for those who were lynched in America. We hadn’t even known about The Legacy Museum. The power and intentionality of both the museum and the memorial moved us profoundly. I hope the images (all from the memorial, no photos allowed at the museum) below convey even a bit of what we experienced in those four hours.
From Montgomery we drove to Monroeville, Alabama, Harper Lee’s home in the town she based the fictional Maycomb on in To Kill a Mockingbird. The local courthouse where Lee’s father, a trial lawyer, worked is now a museum. What a treat for me; I taught To Kill a Mockingbird each of the thirty-seven years that I taught English. The novel feels quite cellular to me, her words flowing in my bloodstream.
And now here we are in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, waiting for the day to warm up a bit before we head out on the Longleaf Trace bike trail.
(At the Memorial, there are jars of soil from the places people were lynched; at The Legacy Museum there are thousands more. The number of names and jars is overwhelming.)
The Memorial outside:
And from Monroeville, Nell Harper Lee’s home,
the courtroom, that the movie based its set on:
I love that line, when I work to learn something, I remember it.
Stay safe. Miss you. Love you.