Today was our first full day in Birmingham, Alabama. We attended the Civil Rights Institute and Kelly Ingram Park. The location of the Civil Rights Institute is directly across the street from the 16th street Baptist church, the site of multiple bombings that’s left four young girls dead and 20 others injured. Kelly Ingram Park is the site of the first mass beatings of the freedom riders and it was also an assembly point for the Sourhern Christian Leadership Confernce and its participants, where they planned sit-ins, boycotts, marches designed to end segragation in Birmingham.
The intensity of the physical evidence, photos, and audio at both the institute and the park left us with a mixed bag of feelings. Hate, sadness, pride, and joy were present in all of us today. While we were able to walk through the institute and park as individuals, our group reflection gave us a place to share those feelings. We are grateful to have seen and heard the courage that carried the civil rights movement and we feel the need to adopt their unflinching patience. Although we only verbally reflected on our feelings and the strength of the black community in Birmingham, we are better equipped to meaningfully engage with our Pilot and Portland community.