Montgomery, Alabama 1960. Part 2

We began our story yesterday. The family of Mother Goose traveled from northern Minnesota to Montgomery, Alabama in the autumn of 1960 to visit my uncle. Besides touring the obvious historical sites, they also paid their respects at the Oakwood cemetery where legendary country western singer Hank Williams had been laid to rest only seven years earlier.

Grandma and Geney with Hank’s monument in 1960.

Hank’s monument in recent times — his neighborhood is a little more crowded now.

People and places change over the years. Buildings age, monuments rust and molder. Trees grow, people die. Times change. Families change.

All of my dear family who went on this trip are gone now — Grandma and Uncle Fred, Mom and both of her brothers, Warnie and Geney…

Mr. Dylan taught us to sing “the times, they are a’changing…”

Montgomery, Alabama in 1960 was smack dab in the center of the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King had been arrested and jailed earlier that year. Students at Alabama State College had followed his example of non-violent protest with a lunch counter sit-in. From our modern perspective, can we even begin to imagine a time when it was illegal for black people to eat at the same table as white people? Can we even remember 1960?

Students in Greensboro, North Caroline protesting segregation in February 1960.

Montgomery was the scene of extreme violence in 1960. This famous photograph was taken by Charles Moore.

This final picture, taken by my mom with her Brownie camera, easily and horribly illustrates the community’s acceptance of the Ku Klux Klan in the capital city of Montgomery in 1960. Just like those welcome signs posted by the local Lions club, or the Rotary Club or the American Legion, just another civic organization…

Fortunately, some things change. God bless America.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jeff noel
    Jun 07, 2012 @ 05:00:43

    Natalie, yes, God blesses America.

    Reply

  2. Three Well Beings
    Jun 07, 2012 @ 12:36:23

    Yep! That’s my memories, too, of Mississippi when we visited as a child. I think my parents thought they were shielding me by not talking about it, but although I was young I could see (and hear) enough to figure it out. I have very strong memories of being shocked at what I saw and trying to understand how the family we had traveled clear across the country to visit was obviously not bothered by segregation. I think we are on a slow train to change. As a country we are changing, but we have a long trip ahead of us! Debra

    Reply

  3. Chris Brusatte
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 08:40:29

    Hello, love the post – very powerful, and very well-written!
    My name is Chris Brusatte, and I am working with the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis on the renovation of their exhibits. Your image of the Ku Klux Klan sign post is stirring, and I am actually contacting you to see whether we can honor this photo by using it in our exhibits (which will open in January). Would you mind emailing me, as soon as you can, at chris@howardrevis.com, and letting me know whether we might be able to use this image? And thanks again for promoting the message with such a well-written blog.
    I look forward to hearing back from you!
    Chris Brusatte
    Howard + Revis Design Services (prime contractor for the museum)

    Reply

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