Vulcan Park – Birmingham, Alabama

Vulcan Park is located at the top of a mountain in Birmingham, Alabama.  It is home to the largest iron statue in the world, which locals like to call The Original Iron Man.

Visitors can take an elevator up to a walkway near the top of the statue.  The view of Birmingham from there is breathtaking.

Vulcan Park also includes a museum that explains the role of iron production during the industrial revaluation and how Sloss Furnace (a facility that produced iron and steel) was responsible for the massive growth of the city of Birmingham.

Civil Rights Institute – Birmingham, Alabama

The Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, is an amazing museum and educational center.  As you view the exhibits, you can hear the personal stories of  numerous people involved in the civil rights movement.

I was walking through the museum, and I was struck by the courage and solidarity of those fighting for equality.  I was also struck by the ignorance and hatred of those fighting against equality.

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If we are wrong, the Supreme Court is wrong.

If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong.

If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin

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John Howard Griffin was a reporter in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  He heard about discrimination and segregation in the southern states.  He was aware of the civil rights movement that was just starting to take hold in Montgomery, Alabama.

Griffen knew as a white man, he would never truly understand what life was like for the black people.  Griffin wanted to know, “What is it like to experience discrimination based on skin color, something over which one has no control?”

Griffin found a dermatologist that was willing to prescribe medication that can cause a person’s skin to get darker.  The medicine was normally used for people suffering with a skin disease that caused white blotches to appear on their skin.  However, Griffin would need to take way more than the recommended dose.  The doctor required blood test during the first few weeks to ensure there were no adverse effects.

Griffin also used sun lamps and a stain to help his skin get as dark as possible.  Then he shaved his head and boarded a bus to New Orleans.  He spent several weeks in New Orleans, before traveling to Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.

Griffin gives a detailed account of his experiences in his book,  “Black Like Me.”  He was surprised to see how helpful the black people were to a stranger.  He was able to stay with various families and get to know what their life was really like.

At several points, he had to find a place to be alone.  He would start crying at the injustice he was seeing, especially when children were involved.  He was appalled by how some of the white people treated black children.

Griffin also described his interactions with white people.  He was taken aback by how hateful some people behaved.  He was amazed by the cruelty he experienced.  He would listen to white people talk about their moral and intellectual superiority; however, their behavior was a far cry from what they claimed to be.

He also talked about the people involved in the civil rights movement.  He encountered a group of white people actively working with the black community to improve conditions.  They were being targeted by their own race and viewed as race traitors.  However, they believed everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.  They continued fighting for equality in spite of the persecution.

The book is moving and well written.  You can easily picture the surroundings, the people, and the situations.  You can feel what the author was feeling.  This truly is a book worth reading.

 

Burritt On the Mountain

Burritt on the Mountain is wonderful place to visit.  It’s located on Monte Sano Mountain and it overlooks the city of Huntsville, Alabama.

The historic park is filled with homes, antiques, and a barnyard from the 19th century.  Most of the homes are open, allowing visitors to freely explore.  There are a lot of informational signs posted around the park, which is designed to educate visitors on how people lived during that time period.

The park even has play areas for children, so they can dress up as pioneers, pan for gold, or climb on carriages.

The Burritt Mansion is part of the park and is also open to visitors.  Dr. William Henry Burritt built the mason in the 1930’s.  Dr. Burritt was born in 1869, in Huntsville, Alabama.  He worked as a homeopathic physician and he spent his retirement years at the mansion.

The mansion is gorgeous and was built with a variety of architectural styles, including classical, revival, federal, and art deco.

If you ever visit Huntsville, make sure to check out Burritt on the Mountain.

 

Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson

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In 1692, Salem Village was a small community of Puritans located near Salem, Massachusetts.

A group of adolescent girls decided to form a club.  They enjoyed listening to Tituba, a slave from West India, talk about her childhood and the pagan worship practices of her family.

The girls accused Tituba of witchcraft.  They would throw themselves on the ground, roll around, and scream.  They claimed they were being tormented by the witch.  Tituba was convicted of witchcraft based on the girl’s performance.  Immediately after that, the girls started accusing other residents.  They even accused a five year old girl, who was then convicted of witchcraft.

A little over a year later, hundreds of people had been accused and convicted.  Most of them were in prison; however, nineteen had already been executed and an unknown number of victims died in prison.

The witch trials were starting to have a negative impact on the whole community.  Farms were left abandoned and food was becoming scarce.  Slowly, people stopped believing the girls and ignored their antics.

Years later, the judges admitted they convicted innocent people based solely on the girl’s claims of being tormented by witches.

I wonder what became of those girls.  They are responsible for sending people to their death.  The only thing they had to gain was fame and entertainment.  Did they feel guilty for their role in this tragedy?  Was the ring leader a sociopath?

Strange State Slogans

There are a few state slogans that seem strange to me.  I was wondering how those slogans came into existence, so I did a bit of online research.

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Missouri is know as “The Show Me State.”  There are multiple stories as to how the slogan  came about, but the most popular one involves Willard Duncan Vandiver.  He was a congressman for Missouri from 1897-1903.  During a speech, Vandiver would say, “to convince me, you have to show me.”

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Oklahoma is called the Sooner State.  In 1889, the American Indian territory was opened to settlers.  People by the thousands, lined the boarder and waited for the official signal to start the race into the territory.  However, some people went into the territory early and had already laid claimed to some of the land.  They became known as Sooners, because they were to soon.

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During the war of 1812, volunteer soldiers from Tennessee displayed great courage and fortitude while fighting.  Tennessee became know as the Volunteer State in honor of those soldiers.

 

 

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