Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Rosa Parks Museum

Just inside the door at the museum entrance
If you are ever in Montgomery, Alabama, this is a DO NOT MISS! Along with the rest of the Montgomery's history making icons all over town, (see yesterday's blog), the Troy University Rosa Parks Museum is a wonderful place to learn lots more that you didn't learn when you were in school. Six distinct sections of the museum tell the story and bravery of the early civil rights activists...

There is a marvelous, interactive part that you can do and we did--The Cleveland Avenue Time Machine.... You get "on the bus", a reproduction of the Cleveland Bus of Montgomery, AL, and Mr. Rivets, the robotic bus driver, leads you into a 360 degree surround sound video tour of the events of history leading up to 1955. It's an interactive bus ride through the early history of the south, slavery, Dred Scott and segregation, from the 1800's to the events leading up to Rosa Park's momentous decision not to give her seat up on the bus that day in 1955. No pictures, please! The videos and photos are copyrighted. (Sparky, put your camera away!) The bus "moves", bounces a little, as if you were really riding and you travel back in time to see history unfold in front of you. Sound and video presentation is excellent! Hop off the "bus", and venture to a couple other parts of the museum for more history.

Here's the upstairs second floor viewing room:

A bank of about ten computers on a tabletop research station allow you to access more information--such as oral histories of people who remember the bus boycotts of Montgomery, the effects of segregation on Montgomery's residents, and other archived information.
On to another part of the museum....view Rosa Park's "bus" line set up so you can see a film made to look like you are watching the events unfold right on Rosa Park's bus through the windows when she gets arrested. Then the tour moves into a more traditional museum setting where more short videos are played, artifacts from that time period are displayed and a beautiful Chevy is on view that was used to transport the boycotters during the strike. Did you know that 350 of the cars were purchased and licensed through the local churches to transport the boycotters? The city had tried to block the alternative transportation for the black residents by saying they had to have a business license and pay taxes. The organizers of the boycott got around this block by having the churches purchase the vehicles.  There were lots  more interesting facts behind the boycott...fascinating! Money flowed in from all over the world and the U.S. to support the boycott. Because no one would insure the cars in the United States, a wealthy Alabama businessman had to go to Lloyd's of London to get the cars insured.  The black residents of Montgomery really pulled together to form a highly organized alternative transportation system that worked well for them for the 13 months the boycott was in effect! We learned a lot from our tour guide today, a young man, who did an excellent job of sharing Montgomery's important history. (Sparky forgot to get his name!)

It was a really interesting tour for us today....Every American should be completely familiar with this dark, sorrowful, shameful part of our history. I felt quite a bit of ignorance at not knowing so many details of this historical event. I'm glad I went to see the museum today to learn a lot more. It was well worth 12.00 for each of us, with a 1.00 discount for AAA....We both were glad we came!


  1. Thanks for another great blog. Again, adding it to our list of "must see" when we are back in that area. Enjoy your weekend.

  2. we are not big museum people but would like to visit this one when we can...

  3. I'm with Heyduke about museums. Living for years not too far from the Smithsonian, I've enjoyed them especially on rainy days. Now I pretty much skip them in favor of being outside but this is one that I will definitely go out of my way to see. Sounds extremely well done. Thanks for such a good post on it.