Thursday, April 15, 2010
1963 ~ A Big Year
I had the opportunity to visit HIPPY in Anniston Alabama recently. I flew into Birmingham on a Sunday and rented a car, faced with an open afternoon. I was so happy to find (thank you Birmingham Airport for the free wi-fi!) that there's a Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham and I spent a fascinating and emotionally exhausting afternoon there. I was born in 1963, right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, and the year of the Birmingham bombing that killed 4 little girls (in the church right across from the museum). How different a city is Birmingham today. Yes, there's always work yet to do, but in my birth-year Birmingham buses, hotels and restaurants were segregated. On that day, I sat at a restaurant with an integrated clientele of barbecue lovers. I know that Civil Rights is a lot more than sitting together at the same dining table, but it seemed to be a good sign. On returning home I was reminded of at least one good thing that came out of that tumultuous era -- AmeriCorps VISTA which is 45 this year. Our HIPPY*VISTA program focuses on increasing support, funding and volunteerism in the communities HIPPY serves. This work was recently recognized by the Dallas Foundation who awarded us a grant.