Today I went to the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, across from the 16th Street Baptist Church where four little girls were killed in a bombing back in the early '60s. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to take photos. But they do a fantastic job of helping you experience the history of the civil rights struggle, and Birmingham's history in that. If you are ever down here, make it your primary stop. It paints a brutally honest picture of what it was like, and it evokes some pretty strong emotions even if you're not from here. Reading some of the laws, and hearing some of the speeches made, and looking at the coverage from that time period in Birmingham makes me think about the ways we look at each other. I know many of us want to believe that race doesn't hinder our progress any longer, that we put that behind us, and that Barack Obama's candidacy somehow transcends race or helps America move past it. I'm hesitant to think one person can do that. What I saw today at the Institute makes me believe that even more. I like Obama, I just wish he was more willing to talk about race and racism in this country. I suppose that's too much to ask of someone who's running for president, even if he is black. I just hope people don't start to believe that everything will be fine and dandy if he's elected. There's still a lot of work ahead if we are to live up to our promise, no matter what "class" you put yourself in.
I head back to NOLA in the morning, after attending the Alabama A&M/Alabama State football parade downtown. It should be good entertainment to send me on my way. It's been good to visit here, and wrap up my trip with my friend Allison. I've mentioned it before, but this has been a good experience for me. I've visited places I would never have otherwise, and met people that have made me think about what I believe. It's easy to "mock" the South for its perceived backwardness, but these people take their politics and religion very seriously. And even if I don't agree with everything I've heard, I'm glad we've been able to listen to each other. I discovered we agree on more things than we disagree on. That's the place to start, right?