This area was very eye opening and confronting for Mia. Seeing all the ways people's civil rights are taken away still was a bit shocking when you put it all together in one area. It's not like we didn't know each were taking place, we just hadn't thought about how it all added up to = TONS of Civil rights being restricted or ignored. And so much hatred towards those people.
The last room of the memorial is pitch black besides one wall that is a bunch of names scrolling down the wall. And on one wall is a promise to stand against any civil rights oppression we'd see. Mia wanted to add her name to the wall for the both of us.
After seeing the memorial we went to take pictures of the church where Martin Luther King spoke. While Mia was taking pictures of it, a construction worker came up and started talking to us. A very friendly man asking about where we were from and what we thought of the church.
After talking to him for a few minutes we found out we were not just talking to a construction worker but also the Assistant Reverend at a Baptist Church. I still feel really bad I forgot to write down his name & I have now forgotten it. However even with this one detail missing about this man, he will still be written about today.
The conversation started with small talk about the church and I said I was very much so enjoying the church, that I'd also just come from the Civil Rights Museum. I told him about how moving it was and that I felt like everyone should see it. Mia, always the one willing to jump right into the tough topics, decides to ask this lovely man about something she'd heard.
Over the weekend Mia and I learned that MLK day (in Jan) is also Robert E. Lee day. That both men are celebrated on the same day in 3 states (AL, AR, MS). Mia was greatly offended when she heard about this and didn't understand why this to polar ideals had to be celebrated on the same day.
So Mia being Mia said, "May I ask you a potentially volatile question?" This man, whom we didn't know yet was a reverend, said, "yes". So Mia asked, Is it true and what do you think about it? I can't remember his exact words something along the lines of "yeah, ain't it a kick in the pants" is how he started his answer but the end of his answer was where he truly stood....
He changed Mia's heart.He was raised in Montgomery, lived there his whole life. He has seen much change in the attitude of the city, and he's sense the next generation of KKK members being brought up. Every day is an opportunity to pray to God for patience and to pray to God to bless those that are his enemy. He tells of a man, on his current work site, that runs the mixer once a week. He tells of how this man is a KKK member and holds back no racial slur from him or any other minority on staff there. I asked him how he does it, puts up with this... His answer was, we are of one family, of one love, God will guide me and blesses me. The Reverend talks about how one day he said to the man, "I'd give you the shoes off my feet if you needed them." The old man said "I'd burn the shoes." The Reverend's response "Then we'd both be barefoot and I'd still give you my shoes"
The Reverend was not boasting in his speech, he was a very humble man, speaking about God as someone that walks beside him and guides him through life. He also spoke of several hardships he'd had through his life & how he's overcome them.
This man, a black man from Alabama working hard to make ends meet, married and with a family had every reason in the world to be ANGRY! And he might be, but he's choosing to "fight" the way things are with understanding, grace, patience, thoughtfulness.
Wow, what an impact he had on Mia.
"Thank you, Reverend, though I may not hold the same spiritual beliefs you do.
I am awed by you and respect you for how you choose to stand.
Thank you for what you personally do everyday in the name of civil rights" ~Mia
This also makes me think of the Bob Marley song: