Churches and Civil Rights: Birmingham, AL

En route to Alabama, I swing by Tupelo, MS, the birthplace of Elvis Presley. It is at least three times bigger than I previously expected.

Elvis' HouseMississippi is understandably proud of one of their most famous sons, but they do want to make one thing clear: Tennessee killed him.

Elvis' HouseCan’t we give you anything nice, Tennessee?

It’s just a quick stop on my way to Birmingham, Alabama. It’s a Sunday morning, so it’s time to go to church. I head to an all-black Baptist church and for those who can’t remember and are wondering how pale I am:

This PaleIt’s this pale.

Suffice to say I blended in. Actually it was a wonderful experience, I was essentially adopted by a lovely woman called Bernadine who looked after me. The pastor was full of life and energy and an excellent orator; I’m used to sleepy old men being wheeled out to mumble something that might as well be in Latin. Given the theme of the last few posts, it won’t surprise anyone to know that the main reason I decided to go was to hear some gospel music and I wasn’t disappointed.

BCRIAfter a quick lunch with a liberal agnostic meteorologist (… it was an odd day), I’m off to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Birmingham was a centre in the civil rights movement and the institute is located next to the 16th Street Baptist Church, the site of a bomb which killed four girls. —

(So, my usual schtick is to post a slew of pictures and / or make terrible jokes. Couldn’t take any photos in BCRI and, er, jokes … not so much. I will say that the BCRI is a very moving experience and if you’re ever in Birmingham, you should definitely make a point to go there. It may help you to understand how totally fucked up the US is about race.)

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