The Rosa Parks Library and Museum is worth a visit but be forewarned it was very pricey and lacked the rich and wonderful content of others places we’d been like the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis or the Little Rock High School Visitor Center. We weren’t allowed to take any photos so sadly I have nothing to remember and nothing to share with you here. Probably the most interesting exhibit is a model of an actual bus that Ms. Parks rode on. We got on board the bus and there were mock passengers and a bus driver. The idea is that you are Rosa and when the exhibit starts the voice of the bus driver tell you to get to the back of the bus. The passengers start talking and we heard the conversation and commotion as we imagined what it must have been like aboard the bus on that fateful day. We learned more details about the civil rights movement and about the brave Ms. Parks who stood up and allowed herself to be arrested to peacefully protest against segregation.
What I loved about this experience is that it sparked a conversation. It was really interesting to hear my kids take and their impressions of what Rosa did and her courage to stand up for the rights of all African Americans. We talked about what it must have felt like to feel like a second class citizen, to be discriminated against, to be separated but supposedly “equal”. We talked about how white people in Alabama thought about black people, and the history that preceded the civil rights movement. The best part of trips like these and visits to these types of museums is that it makes us realize that these people are and were real. These are not stories to teach us lessons, these are real historical events that happened to real people just like us. Rosa Parks could have been you or I, and we must think of her in those terms. That is the ultimate goal when I travel with my kids. I want them to internalize how real these historical events were and empathize with the people who took part in them and changed the course of our country. Mark Twain said it best “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” I hope for all our lessons on the road, my kids and I are better people-more compassionate, understanding, and aware.