Clifton Casey: How His Children Are Affected - Click to view video - Turn up the volume.

16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

Friday, June 25, 2010

Working Hard on Lesson Plans

Todd, Don, and Kristen

Sue, Elias, and Jennifer

Doris is typing up elements of our lesson plans. These photos prove that we worked as well as enjoyed our study tour of Alabama. Our debriefing session at the end of the trip was emotional, moving, and demonstrated how we were each affected by what we have learned. May we convey that to our students as we return to our classrooms.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Video - Finally

I have finally figured out how to share this video with you. I have tried several sites, but the video is ten minutes long. That seems to max out most host sites. Turn your sound way up. This lecture inside the 16th Street Baptist Church is well worth the trouble you may have to go to in order to glean this information. The church in Birmingham is remembered as a center for mass meetings and for the bombing that killed four little girls in the 1960's.

See video of above.

On a Lighter Note

Our 2010 TAH Group in front of the Brown Chapel AME Church building.
Don't mess with Joanne!

Shawn, Arlis, Terri

Our hosts, Ahmad and James

Barry and Jessica. Thanks to Jessica for allowing me to use many of her photos. She's awesome.
The playground behind Brown Chapel.
My wonderful roommate, Shawn

Jessica's an artist with the camera.

Eileen and me

What It Looked Like Then

Note Brown Chapel AME Church in the background. My photos of it appear in an earlier blog.

These historic photos from the marches across the bridge were borrowed from,,, and

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Crossing the Bridge

Front three: Sue, Beatriz, Carrie

Leaving town to cross the bridge. We are under strict orders to walk two by two and "keep up!"

Waiting to cross the bridge. I don't remember what caught our attention in the window. Peter, Arlis, Doris, Terri, Aaron.

Twilight arrives as we walk.

Arlis (me), Doris, Aaron

Kerry, Kristen, Don, Todd, Carrie, Beatriz
Don, Justin, Todd, Elias, David, and Justin

On Saturday, June 12th, our tour ended in Selma. The final event that Joanne Bland organized for us was the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. (Edmund Pettus served as a Confederate general during the Civil War.) Each of us is experiencing the walk in our own way. In the photos, you'll notice some pensive and thoughtful, others trying to capture the moment for posterity on video or in digital photos. Many of us have smiles on our faces. It's not that we don't remember the violence that took place here. I think it must be that we can't believe we get to walk in history's footsteps. We are kind of thrilled at that.
In 1964 President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which made segregation illegal. However, Alabama's Jim Crow laws remained in effect and many African Americans who tried to visit theaters and diners were beaten and arrested. Dr. King addressed a mass meeting in January of 1965 in defiance of an anti-meeting injunction. In February, Jimmy Lee Jackson was killed while trying to protect his mother and grandfather from troopers during a night time demonstration. In response, the marches from Selma to Montgomery were planned. The goal was to ask Governor Wallace to protect African American voters and to address troopers' orders during the demonstration in which Jimmy Lee Jackson was killed.
The Marches:
March 7, 1965 is known as "Bloody Sunday". Marchers left Brown Church and began to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to speak to Governor Wallace. They were met, at the bottom of the opposite side by a wall of troopers across all four lanes of highway. They were told to disband, but leaders wanted to speak to troopers. After being told there was nothing to talk about, tear gas canisters were fired on the crowd and beatings began. The publicity from this violence brought sympathetic supporters and two more marches were organized. The third march drew around 8,000 people and they were able to spread their message without further violence. Following the marches, President Johnson met with Governor Wallace. I have a book that includes a fictional account of their meeting called I Wish I'd Been There, by Byron Hollinshead. It could have been truly fascinating to have listened in on that meeting. Johnson's bill, Voting Rights Act, would later pass Congress.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pebbles in Selma

In Selma, this is the Brown Chapel AME church building where meetings took place during planning and organizing of the marches for equal access to voting rights.
Our TAH group walks down to the street from the playground/staging area for the marches to Montgomery.
The low income homes across from the Brown Chapel AME (African Methodist Episcopal) church in Selma. Joanne lived here when she was young. Many of the same families or their children and grandchildren still live here.

A "hands on" lesson about what is important. Remembering the sacrifices people made for our freedom, and that one person can make a difference. Justin holds a rock from the ground in Selma, where the march to Montgomery began. (Joanne thought Justin was cute.)

Pebbles in Selma on the pavement that Joanne Bland fights to save. It is the same pavement on which marchers staged the walk to across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to Montgomery.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Groves' Alabama Photos (264 photos), by History Grant

I'd like to share my Snapfish photo album with you. The site will ask you to sign in. Find the box that says, "Wait. I don't have a Snapfish account". Use your own email address and enter a password to create your account. The site is free. Enjoy my photos!
Click here to view photos


The trip is over, but you know how we continue to process events after the fact? I'm still doing that. I hope you'll check on this blog for another week or so. Much of today has been spent trying to get my videos available to you on this blog. I'll also try to put a slideshow up so that you can see ALL my pictures. Daily blogging taught me to be focused and concise, but there were so many things I could not include in the space and time I had. This space is for some of those other things. Any questions?

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Carrie Underwood's crew and busses stayed at our hotel Friday night. There was no sign of Carrie. :)

Glenn T. Eskew signs a copy of his book, But For Birmingham, for Doris. He was a fascinating speaker who helped fill in information gaps in the Civil Rights folder of the history file in my brain. I can't wait to read his entire book.

The 16th Street Baptist Church. Sunday morning most of our group attended church here. I don't mean we "watched" the church service. I mean WE HAD CHURCH! Overwhelmingly, our group members talked about how they could now understand the role of the church in the organization and inspiration of community members as they prepared to stand for equal rights. We could imagine that the pastor was the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. with Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Ralph Abernathy at his side on the pulpit. The choir was inspirational, and the love for children and families demonstrated helped us to understand the strength that people of the Movement drew from the church.

This photo is not in perfect focus, but it is the only one I have of Joanne Bland and me. She was an eleven-year-old child when she crossed the Edmund Pettis bridge in Selma, Alabama in March of 1965. The first two attempts to cross ended with the marchers turning around to regroup and decide what to do next. The third march across the bridge became known as "Bloody Sunday". On this day a non-violent march was met with violence that shocked the nation when they saw it on television and in the newspapers. Joanne shared many memories with us. What a unique opportunity to hear about a historic event and time in history from someone who was there. Pay attention! Your older relatives and friends may have important bits of wisdom and history to share with you. Tomorrow's history happens today.

Fire Flies

OF COURSE I couldn't capture the flickering of the fire flies in this picture,but I promise they were there. It was magical watching them at the conclusion of a long, full day. What do they have to do with the purpose of this trip? I've been thinking about that, trying to make a connection. Besides the fact that seeing fire flies has been on my bucket list for some time, maybe they are a symbol, a reminder if you will, that little things can cast a light that gives people hope and pleasure. Many of the people we have met and learned about are not widely-known, but the small steps they took toward freedom cast a light for the future.
This is my favorite painting at the Civil Rights Memorial Center. The center is also home of Maya Lin's memorial to Civil Rights "fire flies" (my phrase). She is the artist who created the Viet Nam Veteran's Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. This memorial has a similar feel, but uses water as well. The water is intended to add a soothing comfort to the sadness we often feel when we reflect on the sacrifices made by some in order to ensure others a better future.

Me, our gracious and gregarious propietor, and Terri just after lunch at Dreamland in Montgomery. Barbeque chicken, beans, mashed potatoes, and sweet (really sweet) tea. While in Montgomery, we visted the Rosa Parks Library and Museum. It is located on the corner of the street where she was arrested for not giving up her seat on the bus. Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, the home church of Martin Luther King, Jr., sits, ironically, just across the street from the state capitol building.

My school site team. Me, Doris, Eileen, and Aaron. We're working on a lesson based on content learned and experiences we have had on this trip. Ours is entitled, "One City's Response to Federal Desegregation Laws".

Tuskegee Airbase. African American men and women trained to be pilots, ground crew, and mechanic support personnel during WWII. It took the efforts of many people, including Eleanor Roosevelt, to allow the pilots to actually see combat duty because of discrimination. It is said that Eleanor visited the airbase and wished to go for a flight with a pilot. Officers tried to discourage this recklessness and thought about calling her husband (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) to have him dissuade her. The idea was abandoned because (paraphrase quote) "She doesn't listen to him either".

Friday, June 11, 2010

Meeting the Foot Soldiers of the Movement

See the photograph of Janice in 1963 in a makeshift jail. There are two girls in the center, facing the camera and smiling. The one on the left is Janice Kelsey. In the photo below, Janice is the third from your left. She tells her story because she feels she must, but she still has a tough time holding back the emotion as she revisits this tumultuous time.
On Thursday, a highlight of this seminar was hearing from, meeting, and discussing the experiences of the "foot soldiers" of the Civil Rights Movement. These people were not leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Fred Shuttlesworth, but they played a part in an event that was to be a pivotal point in history. On May 2nd, 1963, children and teenagers met at the 16th Street Baptist Church as a launching arena for an organized march through town. Many only got a few feet from the church before they were arrested. Makeshift jails ended up housing over 2,000 African American children. You are familiar with the images of the events the following day when the police and firemen used powerful hoses and dogs to turn back protesters. The panel members in the photo are, from left to right, Dr. Horace Huntley, Myrna Carter Jackson, Janice Kelsey, and Clifton Casey.
Finally, Doug Jones, former U.S. District Attorney, narrated the story of how his team was able to convict two of the bombers 24 years later. Absolutely riveting. There is much to tell, but not much time to share it. As I close tonight's blog, it is 11:26 p.m., and we leave the hotel at 6:15 in the morning to visit Tuskegee, Montgomery, and Selma. Perhaps I'll get some time to blog during our travel tomorrow.

We have also been to the 16th Street Baptist Church for a history tour, and will attend a church service there on Sunday. One reason this church is remembered is because four months after the Children's March on September 15th, a bomb exploded killing four little girls who were preparing to participate in the youth worship service. Our docent, Dennis, narrated the story of what occured that day and how families, the community, and the nation reacted.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

From Houston to Birmingham

When life gives you lemons... Okay, so we didn't make lemonade, but we DID make waffles in the shape of Texas. This group of teachers really knows how to see the bright side of a situation that follows a different path than expected. The bottom line is that we eventually did make it to Birmingham. It was, however, twenty-four hours later than planned.

Grateful for a chance to change clothes and brush our teeth, we checked into our hotel and were shuttled to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Orientation included meeting our hosts, Ahmad and James, touring the center's impressive exhibits, and an introductory film entitled, "Who Speaks for Birmingham". This documentary was filmed by CBS in 1961 and included a variety of perspectives on events and the social climate in Alabama at the time. A discussion followed. For as tired as we were, our conversations were focused and thoughtful. I agreed with Shawn's comment about these teachers willingly participating in courageous conversations. These kinds of conversations will lead to a deeper understanding of the Civil Rights Movement from many perspectives. Looking forward to tomorrow's agenda.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Best Laid Plans

I hadn't planned on spending the first night in Houston, but nobody seems to be able to get the weather to participate on queue. Heavy rains had us in a holding pattern above our layover city. Eventually, we diverted to San Antonio to wait out the weather. Not one to miss an opportunity, I looked for The Alamo from the air but had no luck. Eventually, the 737 was back in the air and on the way to Houston again, but our connecting flight to Birmingham "had left the terminal". Seventeen teachers could be seen power-walking through the Houston airport, chasing down the next flights to Birmingham. We walked to no less than three gates at opposite ends of this expansive airport! It felt good to move again, because we had been on the plane for approximately eight hours, but we had no luck. All of the flights had already left. We took a shuttle to a nearby mall for clothes (Our luggage went on without us.) because it was inevitable that we would spend the night in Houston. It felt wonderful to have cleaned up, had dinner, and to be able to relax. Tomorrow would be another day. The next day, our Birmingham flight took off without a hitch.

Flash forward - The itinerary full of workshops, tours, and discussions will have to wait until we arrive. This trip is one of "firsts" for me. Until today, I had never missed a connecting flight and had to stay overnight in a city. A first. I had never been to Houston or San Antonio. Again, a first. I anticipate the events on my itinerary in the next few days will be meaningful and enlightening. They will all be "firsts" for me. I can't wait to describe them. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 7, 2010

What It Is

My school district in partnership with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the National Archives and Records Administration, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, and Out of the Box Consultant Services has been presenting a living history series in which the focus is The American Citizen: A Study of Liberty and Rights. Beginning in October of 2009, participating teachers attended several weekend workshop sessions conducted by the above organizations and the California Museum of History, Women, and the Arts. We worked to increase our content knowledge related to liberty and rights and to note best practices for disseminating that knowledge in the classroom setting. Several additional elements of this series took place on an ongoing basis. Bi-weekly classroom strategies surveys, colloquium evaluations, classroom observations, student pre-post tests, and teacher pre-post tests kept us accountable and engaged. Once in Alabama, our school site teams will develop lesson plans for classroom and district use. Tomorrow we depart for the summer institute portion of the series. I hope to provide useful content and experiential information in this blog. If you have questions or comments as you follow my trip, let me know, and I will make every effort to address them.