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5th November 2018

Road Trip #1, Day 1 – State #37

I started out the year with 14 states left to visit: Maine on one end, Alaska on the other, with the majority of the southern states in between: Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia (I was across the river once when I drove with friends from Pittsburg to Washington DC), South Carolina, Georgia (I’ve been to the Atlanta airport  at least 6 times, but had never set foot outside, which is my criteria), Louisana, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina. I briefly contemplated doing one long road trip starting in Kansas and getting all of the southern states, but since I wanted to do a little more than just drive on freeways, and I have limited chunks of time available, I ended up with “smaller” road trips.

I decided early on that I didn’t want to do any of the trips in the south during the summer because I did not want to face humidity and mosquitos (I’ve been spoiled since moving to Portland). So the first road trip took place in April and it really was the perfect time.

The trip: Georgia -> South Carolina -> Florida -> Alabama -> Mississippi -> Louisana

I had gone to Florida last June for a conference, so Florida wasn’t one of the states that I needed to see, but I love the ocean and the beach, and there may have been a small part of me that has wanted to see Pensacola, Florida since I watched Contact so many years ago. Plus, when I was making my plans, the southern states were being particularly icky with their support of confederacy monuments, and I’ve been disturbed by my country’s embrace of populism since November 2015 and I didn’t want to get into the heart of Mississippi and Alabama. Hence the somewhat circuitous route.

My dad came on the trip with me, which, given that it was an 8 day trip, I was glad for the company.

Day 1: Atlanta, GA. We flew into Georgia late the night before and stayed in a hotel near the airport. Early the next morning, we drove to downtown Atlanta to see Centennial Park, as well as the Center of Civil and Human Rights museum. They have this one exhibit, where they’re recreated the lunch tables of Woolsworth, where you sit on the stools, and listen to voices shouting insults into your ears as everything shakes. Completely changes your perspective on what a “peaceful” protest entails – so powerful.

Centennial Park – Home to the 1996 Olympics

Enjoying a warm spring day in the Olympic ring sprinklers

Center for Civil and Human Rights

“Protesting white supremacists (below) line the streets to harass civil rights demonstrators in 1966. These images shocked a nation accustomed to telling itself that racism was mainly a southern problem.”

Nitrogen-frozen ice cream

I met up with a fandom friend for lunch and then we went to the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial, which encompasses his birthplace and the church where he and his father preached. It’s the 50 year commemoration since his murder; it was sobering realizing how far we’ve come and how far we have still to go – and how easy it could be to slip back.

Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthplace

At the King Center (now one of my favorite quotes)

Principles of Nonviolent Resistance

The tomb of MLK, Jr and his wife Coretta Scott King

Pianos for Peace were scattered throughout the center.

Ebenezer Baptist Church

Inside the church – MLK preached here only a few days before his murder.

We stayed there until closing and then left the city (after a detour to REI since my shoes were rubbing blisters in my feet) and stayed in Augusta that night, before setting off on our next stop: Congaree National Park.

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