Montgomery, Alabama

December 12, 2018, January 11-12, 2019

So much history!

I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s so much of what I’ve been learning wasn’t taught when I was in school. That’s because the fight for civil rights wasn’t history yet, it was the day’s news.

Much of what I knew was a mere snapshot of a much larger panorama. The more I learned, the more I have come to appreciate the sacrifices people made to create a better life for everyone.

Visiting these sites was a sobering experience.

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Tuskegee Airmen

December 12, 2018

“They said we didn’t have the intelligence, demeanor, the courage to be combat pilots. They learned different. All we needed was a chance and training.”
Col. Charles E. McGee, Pilot, c. 2005

The “Tuskegee Experiment” was meant to fail. The US government specifically stated the blacks were NOT mentally and physically capable of flying airplanes. I don’t know why they did the “experiment” at all but boy were they proved wrong. Young black men volunteered to do whatever needed to be done to get them into an airplane. They trained longer and harder and had stricter pass/fail requirements than their white counterparts. They did not train together with white pilots but had their own hangers and field away from the white airbase. Their book learning was at Tuskegee Institute (a black college) but their “basic” pilot training was at Moton Field. The National Park Service has two hangers with excellent interpretive exhibits about the Tuskegee Airman. Their video is inspiring and many stations in the museum allow you to hear the voices of the actual airmen (some are still alive… seriously “mature” but alive). The video recordings are great. They tell about the hardships and racism that they encountered but they also let you see the pilots’ eyes light up when they talk about what it meant to fly and defend their country. These were fly boys. Black or white didn’t matter to them. They loved what they did and their excitement and pride comes through. At some point they painted the tails of their planes red and earned the nickname “Red Tails”. The “Red Tails” became known for their ability to safely bring the bombers home and were requested by many squadrons to provide escort duty for them.

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Selma, Alabama

December 11, 2018

Selma Interpretive Center

The Selma Interpretive Center and the National Park Service Interpretive Center tell the story of those who nonviolently fought for the right to vote. These events occurred 100 years after the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution banished slavery, provided equal protection under the law, and guaranteed the right to vote.

The Selma interpretive Center chronicles the events leading up to Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965 and the Selma to Montgomery March later that month.

Downtown Selma today

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George Washington Carver Museum & Tuskegee Institute

December 10, 2018

“No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.”
George Washington Carver

This was an amazing man. Born a slave; Small in size; Frail and sickly; Black when it wasn’t good to be black with all the added hurdles and hardships that came with it. And yet, he left behind an astounding number of “distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through” this world. Continue reading

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Battle or New Orleans – Chalmette, Louisiana

December 2, 2018

I want to clear up some misconceptions about this battle. These were “facts” I had been taught way back when I was in elementary, junior high, and high school.

First, the Treaty of Ghent that formally ended the War of 1812 was signed on December 24, 1814 in Ghent, Netherlands. The Battle of New Orleans was fought on January 8, 1815. This was after the peace treaty was signed but before both countries had approved it. The British signed the treaty on December 30, 1814. The United States didn’t ratify the treaty until February 17, 1815.

Second, the Battle of New Orleans wasn’t fought in New Orleans. It was fought in Chalmette, Louisiana.

I was taught that the battle was fought after the war ended. Maybe educators back then didn’t think my young mind could wrap itself around the concepts of before and after. After all I did go to school long before Sesame Street went on the air.

I wasn’t taught that the battle was fought in Chalmette rather than New Orleans. I guess they also thought New Orleans would be easier to remember and pronounce than Chalmette.

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New Orleans Museums

December 1 & 5, 2018

New Orleans is OLD. It is also an incredible melting pot that took all different cultures and blended them up into something new while retaining enough of each of the old ones to maintain an identity. The land and the city changed hands over and over but the city itself has been around for 300 years. That, dear readers, means history… lots and lots of history. So we had to hit a few of their museums. Continue reading

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New Orleans Food

December 1-6, 2018

New Orleans has many great places to eat so we continued to eat our way through Louisiana. Every restaurant, cafe, or coffee bar we hit was good. One local claimed New Orleans doesn’t have any BAD restaurants. Nothing we experienced could prove that statement false. Here are the places we ate:

Cafe Du Monde – This is apparently a required stop in New Orleans. They are open 24 hours, cash only, pay upon delivery of food. It cost $6.00 per person for a plate of 3 beignets with a ton of powdered sugar and a cup of Cafe au Lait (tax included, tip not included). It was very nice. Did I mention they are open all night? There is no last call in New Orleans. Bars are not required to stop serving. I’d love to people watch the drunks trying to manage all that powdered sugar in the wee hours of the morning but, alas, we are snuggled into our beds long before that. NOTE: Do NOT inhale while biting into a beignet. The powdered sugar jumps down your windpipe and you will entertain your friends to no end. Once you recover, you’ll find yourself (and your friends) covered in powdered sugar.

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