Trip Log – Day 294 – Mountain Brook, AL to Birmingham AL

to BirminghamAugust 25, 2016 – Partly cloudy, 90 degrees

Miles Today: 28

Miles to Date: 15,105

States to Date: 41

Birmingham: I was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see.

 Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 7.29.25 PMToday I got so lost I could not tell north from south, right from left. Clouds obscured the sun. The city has numbered streets in all directions. What’s the point of a sign telling me I’m at the intersection of 8th Street W and 4th Court W when I’m supposed to be Northeast? Eventually I got my bearings, found my way and met wonderful people who did not discredit my being late.

I began well enough, visiting my friends at TRO, the Birmingham branch of the firm I worked for in Boston. Then I pedaled more than ten miles to complete the five-mile distance to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. After lunch I got back on track; toured the Sloss Furnaces, an incredible preservation of the city’s industrial past; went to the 16th Street Baptist Church, where my body trembled contemplating the explosion; and took the Civil Rights walk from Kelly Ingram Park to City Hall.

IMG_6851 copy Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 7.33.45 PM IMG_6860 copy

There, the lost and found metaphor sunk in. This city, the most segregated and entrenched bastion of Jim Crow in our country, was lost for so long. Yet, today Birmingham owns, even celebrates, its pivotal position in the struggle for racial equality and justice. That is not to say that opportunity is equally distributed. But how Birmingham acknowledges where it was and how it changed is a credit to all sides.

IMG_6867I pedaled to Mary’s House on the far west side (which by then I could navigate quite well) and enjoyed a community supper with Shelley and Jim Douglass, long time Catholic Worker activists, and other folks from the Ensley neighborhood. Shelley arranged for me to sleep at the local rectory, where I stayed up too late talking with Rev. Justin Nelson, a fascinating priest from India whose vocation led him to pastoring a pair of African-American Catholic Churches in Alabama.

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About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, theawkwardpose.com is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog, www.howwillwelivetomorrw.com, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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