We started the 4th of July with a breakfast of “Crazy Eggs” at a cute Venezuelan cafe in downtown Birmingham. There wasn’t much open but this would have been a winner any day! The owner spoke with us for a bit about her cooking approach and Venezuelan domestic politics. We had a side of arepas, which were delicious. A group of three women walked in a little after us and one of them had a “Surprise me” meal which ended up being a larger arepa with pulled pork. It looked amazing!
After breakfast, we went to the Southern Law Center and Memorial. The building was closed for the holiday but we walked around the Memorial fountain with its engraved Civil Rights movement timeline.
We also went to the Equal Rights Initiative headquarters, which I really wanted to see after reading Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. The building is one of the former slave warehouses of Birmingham. The theme of historical oppression transforming over time to a place of new hope and work for justice was also reflected in Selma later that day.
Our destination that day was Vicksburg, MS. SMS wanted to see the Mississippi River and that was one of the more convenient places to visit, although “convenient” is relative since it added fair bit of mileage to our trip. But seeing the Mississippi contributed to the “Southerness” of our trip.
On the way, we stopped in Selma. We walked across the bridge and went to the Visitor Interpretive Center. I was surprised that the bridge had been dedicated and named in 1939 after the Confederate Genereal and KKK leader Edmund Pettus. It’s amazing how from those beginnings, a potent location and symbol of the Civil Rights transformed the meaning of that bridge.It is so incredible how brave the marchers were. I didn’t realize that a large reason that churches and congregations were involved in the Civil Rights movement is that was the only location where African-Americans could gather in large groups.
We stopped in Jackson, MS and had a sweet treat at Deep South Pops. Although SMS says that I find all the hipster places during our travels, this was his find! It was awesome- we even stopped by again the next day on our way back.
We arrived in Vicksburg where we stayed at the Bezinsky House. They were having a party they invited us to. We hung out for a bit, although I was sad that the hot dogs were boiled, not BBQ’d. Not to sound like a person looking a gift horse in the mouth but boiled hot dogs! Yuck! Ok, ok, it does sound like I’m looking a gift horse in the mouth. The house was so exquisite though that I was fooled- I thought Martha Stewart herself would be on hand for a BBQ grill extravaganza!
SMS and I went down to the riverside park to see the fireworks. The display was incredible. It lasted for 20-25 minutes and was spectacular. The scale of the show seemed more fitting for a much larger city but maybe they were trying to make up for the 83 years they didn’t celebrate the 4th of July after losing the Battle of Vicksburg that day in 1863.