Ol’ Curiosities and Book Shoppe and Monroe County Heritage Museum present: Forgotten Alabama & More Forgotten Alabama photographer Glenn Wills at Old Courthouse Museum

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Huntsville, Alabama native Glenn Wills has taken nearly 15,000 pictures across all 67 counties in the state of Alabama. It began when one day Glenn noticed an old car by the side of the road, but realized that he didn’t have a camera with him to capture the moment. From that moment, Glenn set out to photograph “forgotten” physical reminders of our past. His photographs range from abandoned stores and buildings to old cars and houses, and more.

Glenn took his collection of photographs and turned them into not one, but two photography books: Forgotten Alabama and More Forgotten Alabama.

Glenn will be at the Old Courthouse Museum in Monroeville, Alabama next Thursday February 23rd from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Forgotten Alabama and More Forgotten Alabama will both be available for purchase, and Glenn will be happy to autograph them. He will also be sharing a PowerPoint presentation that will take viewers on a journey, explaining how the project came to be and showing examples of his photography. Following the presentation, there will be a question and answer session with Glenn.

We hope to see as many of our friends as possible next Thursday to meet Glenn and explore and discuss Forgotten Alabama and More Forgotten Alabama at the Old Courthouse Museum.

If you can’t wait until next week and want a sneak peek of Glenn’s work, visit https://www.facebook.com/forgottenalabamathebook/.

 

For questions or further information, please contact one of the following:

Nathan Carter

Old Courthouse Museum

251-575-7433

mchm@frontiernet.net

Ann Mote
Ol’ Curiosities & Book Shoppe
251-575-1050
ocbookshoppe@gmail.com

Seeds of Freedom by Hester Bass, a History of Integration in Huntsville

Seeds of Freedom by Hester Bass
Seeds of Freedom by Hester Bass
Seeds of Freedom by Hester Bass

Seeds of Freedom: A History

In Seeds of Freedom, Hester Bass offers a very thorough and thoughtful history of integration in Alabama. The account is beautifully complemented by the artwork of E.B. Lewis.

While aimed at older children, adults, too, have much to learn from Seeds of Freedom. Bass begins the book with a nod to the Huntsville Space Center and the progress being made there by both American and German scientists in 1962.  She notes that only 20 short years before that time, these two groups were at odds—enemies, even. The idea has much to do with what would happen shortly in Huntsville, with two factions—this time black and white—coming together.

Bass weaves a powerful narrative of black life in Alabama in 1962, when young girls couldn’t try on shoes, families couldn’t eat at restaurants and children couldn’t check books out from the public library—all because of the color of their skin.

Sewing the Seeds of Freedom

Bass continues by explaining the small actions—the Seeds of Freedomthat create change in Huntsville—sit-ins at lunch counters, peaceful protests at the Courthouse,  a small group of women and a baby who insist on having lunch out together (and are arrested, including the baby, for their trouble). We are told about a balloon release, where messages (“Please support freedom in Huntsville”) were sent out en masse.

We are also told about “Blue Jean Sunday,” the Easter Sunday in 1962 when the black community came to church in $5 blue jeans purchased from other communities rather than the expensive church clothes they normally bought in Huntsville. (The effect on the economy and on morale was significant.)

The Seeds of Freedom grow change in Huntsville

Bass tells us how these actions begin to change the city. Slowly, but surely, black and white people begin to eat in the same places, shop in the same store, and bowl in the same allies. Around the country, other places are coming together, too, and Hester Bass tells both sides of the story: those of powerful men, like John F. Kennedy Jr. and Martin Luther King, who supported integration, and those of men like the new governor, George Wallace, who did not.

Finally Bass paints a picture of the integration of the schools, which includes both black children attending traditionally white public schools and white children attending traditionally black private schools—perhaps the most significant hurdle in integration during the time.

The Seeds of Freedom as a conversation starter

Bass’s book is a wonderful way to start to the conversation with children and young adults alike about the history of integration in America, and even the recurring themes of racism we see today throughout the United States. Huntsville chose a better way once upon a time, and there are lessons for us still from their success.

We think that Seeds of Freedom is a great teaching tool and conversation starter. What history lessons from Seeds of Freedom strike you most? What other books and conversation starters have you used to discuss the topics of integration and racism with your own children or students?