Wednesday, March 14  – The ASBers Take a Day Off

“If we are wrong, the Supreme Court is wrong.
If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong.
If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The ASBers finally got a day off (well…sorta). We ended up doing another volunteer project later on in the day, but it was unrelated to Habitat.

We started the morning off slow because we FINALLY got to sleep in until 8:30 a.m. By 9:30 a.m., we were on the road with our lunches packed and music blaring. All of the ASBers headed towards Downtown Birmingham for a day at the Civil Rights Institute. There, we all had an incredibly powerful experience regarding many of the civil rights events. While I won’t spend time trying to recap all of the exhibits at the museum, I will say that being in Birmingham made everything in the museum all the more real.

For those who may be unaware, like I was, there were many bombings during the civil rights movement in the ’60s. Some of the most striking bombings included churches because most Americans, black and white alike, found churches to be safe havens away from the violence of the protests. However, in the ’60s, the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed, killing four little girls. From the museum, we could see the church which made reading about the bombing situation invoke even stronger emotions. However, I felt the saddest today when I saw the artifacts found on one of the four little girls when she died. The case included her shoes, her bracelet, her necklace, but it also held the chunk of brick that was lodged in her head. Seeing these items made history come alive- it was no longer something we just read about in history books or see in pictures, but it was real, and it happened to actual innocent people.

The ASBers were already experiencing quite a mix of emotions – sadness, hope, anger, frustration – but the Civil Rights tour did not stop there. Our next stop was the actual 16th Street Baptist Church. This experience enlightened us further on some of the scarring details regarding the bombing, but the most saddening story was actually part of the tour guide’s history. When our tour guide was in college, he lived in Atlanta, Georgia. At the church in Atlanta, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was the associate minister and was scheduled to speak on the day of the Birmingham bombing. Right before speaking, he got a call in his office that told him about the bombing.

Our guide recalled that when King came out to speak, he was absolutely speechless. An eloquent man who always had something enlightening to say in every situation was speechless. Once again, King got another call which he took in his office. During this call, he was told about the four little girls. Our guide said that when King returned, he had a look of complete devastation, shock, and confusion. Our guide, 55 years later, was still choked up recalling this event. This piece of history was something that couldn’t be found in a museum, and yet, it is the part of the tour that stuck with us after we left the church.

The day wasn’t all emotionally down though. Even as we were pulling out of the museum, the ASBers were talking amongst themselves about the sadness they felt and the hope they had for the future. To improve our mood, the ASBers then went to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens where we got a short tour and began a conservation project. Even on our day off, we suited up with work gloves to pour mulch around the pathways of the fern garden in order to preserve the plants better. It felt good to give back, even if it only had a miniscule impact on the community, especially after our emotional morning.

Our night ended on a high note because it was taco night in the Habitat home. The ASBers are really becoming close-knit. The room was filled with laughter and conversation between each and every person. I’ve never met a kinder and more giving group of people and I’m honored to be able to participate in this Habitat trip with them. As for tomorrow… we’re getting back to work!

– Teagan Potter ’19

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