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The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

The one thing that traveling does best is to expose you to the world and with it the ideas, teachings, and emotions of a lifetime; all you need is an open mind. While visiting Birmingham, I went to the Civil Rights Institute where the power of art, media, and rhetoric truly brings the past to life. My host had been there 28 times - obviously a place he liked to bring his surfers to visit.

The images, videos, exhibits, and words of people from the era gave a whole new perspective on the city where just out the window all of this racial discrimination took place. It's easy to write off the atrocities of Nazi Germany and Hitler because it is a different country and a group of terrible people; it is a whole different story when it is right here on your own soil and your fellow Americans.

Although textbooks and history classes teach you of the past, there is nothing like visiting the place and seeing first hand where Americans were hung, bitten by trained police dogs, and hosed down by the force of hoses from fire hydrants for simply standing up for their freedom to be treated equally.


Just another reason I encourage everyone to get out there and explore your own country. It's not hard, it's not expensive, and it is absolutely doable - whether you drive with Lyft or not.

"We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our God-given and constitutional rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say "wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she cannot go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos, "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger" and your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and when your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodyness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience ..." 
"We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal. If I lived in a Communist country today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeying these anti-religious laws ... " 

Martin Luther King Jr.