Montgomery, Alabama

I traveled to Montgomery, Alabama, with two friends this past week to see the Legacy Sites. These three sites are the brainchild of Bryan Stevenson, the Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative. I am sure there are many others to acknowledge, but he leads the charge.

In 1989, Stevenson, then 29, moved to Montgomery and began the Equal Justice Initiative to guarantee legal representation to every inmate on the state’s death row. He has dedicated his life to defending injustice in the criminal justice system. Everyone should read his book, Just Mercy, a Story of Justice and Redemption.

After seeing the Legacy Sites and reading this book years ago, I believe Stephenson is a national treasure. We need more people like Bryan Stephenson.

I am going to spread this trip over three days of posts. We flew in Tuesday afternoon and grabbed a rent-a-car. It is not a big town, but you do need a car, and I did not see one Uber. Our first stop was Chris’s Hot Dogs, established in 1917. The last renovation, including the grill, was probably in 1950.

Next door, There Is A God In Heaven.

We went with the classic hot dogs and fries, you have to. There are hot dogs under that sauce, I swear.

I do like to get to a local farm where they teach agriculture to the community. The town felt empty, and the farm was empty. Eat South Farm located at the ends of a large parking lot might have school groups but it is not easy to get in the office, no stair.

We moved on to the Rosa Parks Museum. We were one of five people there. The museum is really well done. It tells a story that would relate to a 6-year-old or an 80-year-old. Impressive. The story is about how Rosa got fed up and refused to move from her seat on the bus to give to white people, which launched the civil rights movement, starting with people boycotting buses. I know the story well, as this was part of our kids’ curriculum growing up, as it should be.

The hot dog did not do the trick, so we went to Martins Restaurant.

A local family spot for some of the best fried chicken, fried okra, collard greens, coleslaw, and, of course, sweet Tea on the side.

We had to walk into Winn Dixie, the local grocery store, to see a bit of local flavor. I have never seen these eggs in our NY grocery shop.

We stayed at the Trilogy Hotel. The hotel is a year old but has some history, as everything does in Montgomery. It was built by the Threefoot Jewish German family, who migrated to Montgomery in the 1800s through Ellis Island. Unfortunately, the building was built in 1929. It then went through several owners, preserving history by sitting there vacant. It was rebuilt by Ascent Hospitality, which partners with the largest hotel groups, such as Marriot, to build hotels that make sense in 2024. Impressive job.

The chicken was a snack, so dinner and a drink were needed. We had a drink at the hotel and met a variety of friendly people at the bar, most of whom were doing work in Montgomery. Then, we headed down the street to Moe’s Original BBQ. It is a chain across the country, but they do have fine ribs.

As we have all learned, the future of Montgomery, unless the state is willing to put capital into Montgomery to maintain local spots and build local restaurants, the city will begin to look like Moe’s. For everyone’s sake, I hope not. They can look to other cities, such as Detroit, which has managed to keep the local flare and support the people who have been there for generations.

Tomorrow, we begin the Legacy trilogy.