Bob Graetz is visiting Montgomery, but he's certainly no stranger. As pastor of a predominantly black church here for years during the civil rights movement. He was also the target of many adversaries of social justice. Graetz's home, next door to the church, was bombed three times.
Graetz says, "Here's a new way to look at race. R.A.C.E. Repsect. All. Cultures. Equally. and if we learned anything from Dr. King is the need for respect." Graetz is among many people from around the country drawn to the capitol of Alabama for the boycott anniversary. National radio personality, Tavis Smiley, greeted other visitors at the embassy suites downtown.
Smiley says, "Socially, politically, economically, and even culturally there is still this divide in this country. There's still a great deal of work that needs to be done."
The ceremony held by the Montgomery Improvement Association was a way to usher events that will be held over the next few weeks commemorating the past and working toward future goals.
Elaine Fennell, Ohio seminary student, says, "This is history, living history, and I think it's something we all need to get involved in."
Fennell studies at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. She traveled with a group led by Graetz and wants to help implement positive changes over the next 50 years.
Pastor Ruth Fortis, another Ohio resident, says, "I've been in tears more than once today realizing I have a job to do myself in my little corner of the world."