We reserved 2 nights in Montgomery* in order to have an unhurried visit to the amazing new Legacy Museum, a project of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in downtown Montgomery. No photos allowed inside the building which was a slave warehouse in the dark days of history, but the outdoor memorial was as moving and solemn as it was beautiful.
One of several slaves sculpted in concrete and rusted metal
The Lynching Memorial
Each suspended column represents a county in the US in which EJI was able to find solid evidence of murders of black people, whether by hanging, burning, beating or any other means or combination thereof, up until 1950. Most — but NOT all! — were in the South. Some of the columns bear only one name, while others have many. Many individual victims have been positively ID’d, while some remain nameless.
The entire project is stunning not only for its heart-breaking documentary content but equally for its many artworks and overall museological design! If you’re anywhere near Montgomery on your travels, please add this to your list of must-visits and/or make a generous donation to EJI’s ongoing work to address the impact of this heinous history right up to the present day, in the form of continuing poverty and mass incarceration of black people in America.
That evening, Jane and Hilary joined us in our room to watch a movie: The Hate U Give. Trust me, it was perfect!
Catherine, Jane Hil and two contented cats!
There is so much more to say, think and feel about Alabama and the history of slavery in the south, including Louisiana, of course, but we have learned that nothing shifts the mood like New Orleans!
An uneventful 3-state drive through the rest of Alabama, Mississippi, then Louisiana, culminated in our arrival at the amazingly swish Waldorf Astoria. An outstanding dinner was had in the Fountain Room off the very fancy lobby, starting with “the best Brussels sprouts ever”! Jane declared her martini “the best martini ever”. Hilary and I both gorged ourselves on Gulf shrimp with “the creamiest Parmesan risotto ever”, while Jane had chicken breast on same risotto. My cocktail, a Daisy Bartlett was also memorable, and even teetotaller Hil enjoyed her custom-made NadaColada!
The four of us at dinner, with a jazz pianist in the background
After dinner, Catherine and I headed to our room while Jane and Hil ventured out into the NOLA Night and stumbled into the magical world of jazz coming from every doorway, some happening right out on the street. They will return! As will we if we possibly can.
Terrazzo floor in our bathroom. It’s just SO New Orleans!
Today, we crossed the bayous then entered The Lone Star State, winding up in Beaumont, TX, about which there is absolutely nothing interesting to report, at least so far.
*This endnote fulfills a promise to tell the story of night 1 in Montgomery, which Catherine endured in her wheelchair because the hoist that lifts her into bed was non-functional. It had been developing a problem which we had become very good at ignoring and working around, but that night, no workaround was possible. When we called down to the front desk to ask for help in identifying a local repair shop, the young woman on night staff recalled that when her grannie had required a walker, her family went to Mid-State and were happy with their experience. That was all the recommendation we needed. We called them, got their after-hours emergency service and spoke to Richard, who was willing to come out the next morning (which just coincidentally was MLK Day, a national holiday) to rent us a new lift, or try and fix us up if he could. So he did come out and, bless him, found not one but two problems, one a fairly simple plug adjustment, the other a short in the lift’s hand control. And miracle of miracles, the hand control of the rental, which was a different brand from our lift, worked immediately. So here’s a BIG THANK YOU to Richard and Mid-State in Montgomery, Alabama!