Sunday, June 8, 2008

Kelly Ingram Park - Remembering the Children's Crusade

As I walked around this park, across the street from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, I was pretty floored by the impact the sculptures and fountains had. The images form the Children’s Crusade are among the most powerful that I use in class throughout the year, and the sculptures associated with the movement are just as awesome. The statue of the dog attacking a young man takes your breath away. The number four is dominant throughout the park, serving as a constant reminder of the “4 Little Girls” that perished in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.
I had an unsolicited by much appreciated tour from a local man named Mr. Sanders. He gave me additional insight that isn’t obvious to the casual tourist. He made two interesting observations as well. First, he stated a few times that the monuments and memorials deal with revolution and reconciliation, because you can’t have reconciliation without a revolution. Second, he pointed out the park is named for an Irish American sailor from Birmingham who was the first American sailor killed in WWI. The color of the skin doesn’t matter, he said – just what someone does for others.

You can't walk through this park without feeling something - sad and/or about the events that are commemorated, impressed and proud of the courage the protesters demonstrated, inspired by the message of nonviolence and reconciliation ... I loved the experience. More walking in the footsteps of history.

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