Civil Rights Trip: Swift

Henry Swift ’18 — Today we woke up in Anniston Alabama and went on a walking tour of the town. We followed the “Anniston Civil Rights Trail”, which included the former bus station that the Freedom Riders stopped at. The protestors got off the bus here and were beaten up by a mob, the same bus was firebombed leaving town. We made a quick stop there to see the site of the firebombing, and after that we left for Birmingham where we saw the 16th St. Baptist church and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. What stuck out to me the most from today was the difference between the white and black people that lived through the civil rights movement. We talked to a lady at our hotel this morning that was a local in Alabama. When we asked her about her experience during the sixties, she said that she did not really notice any change in her life, which struck me as a prime example of white privilege. I thought this because she was able to live through a time of monumental change and barely notice it. We later talked to a tour guide who met Dr. King and was active in the Birmingham Movement. He treasures his time with Dr. King and his involvement in Birmingham. It was heartwarming to see his eyes light up as he talked about his time with the famed reverend. Another site that really stuck with me was the Birmingham civil Rights Institute. The exhibit did an excellent job of showing the growth of Jim Crow from the 1960’s to present day. Part of the exhibit showed a white and a black classroom side by side, and I thought the contrast images was extremely important. The white classroom was modern and well appointed, whereas the black classroom was a one room cabin. The stark difference between the two was startling. That exhibit demonstrated again that segregated facilities were not and had never been ‘equal’. It showed that separate but equal was a myth and how bad the difference between white and black facilities was.