Thousands of children walked in the footsteps of history Thursday morning in a special walk from the Rosa Parks Museum and Library to the foot of the Alabama Capitol in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
After arriving at the Capitol, the students heard from area educators, students, choirs and Mrs. Johnnie Carr about how important they are to the future of the state, the country, and the world.
Highland Avenue Elementary School teacher I'brahim Lee recited Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech" and served as the master of ceremonies and continually encouraged both children and adults to "reflect and collect the memories being passed out today."
Choirs from E.D. Nixon Elementary, Carver Elementary, and a high school joint choir provided music for the celebration.
One of the highlights of the morning ceremony was a speech by Courtney Meadows, a seventh grader at the Floyd Middle Magnet School. Sounding like a polished preacher the young Meadows told the assembled crowd there was plenty of work left and asked them, "Where do we go from here?"
He told the students in the crowd that knowledge was a key to the future. "It is important that we know about the civil rights movement and the people who led it...I don't want you to go home and forget about it. I challenge you to learn more."
Speaking to young and old alike Meadows said, "For the parents and teachers, I encourage you to teach your children about the movement and as students it is our job to listen to what is being taught for we are the future....When we have knowledge and understanding of all people, issues and events, we too can take action."
The young student went on to say, "There is a saying - 'The only thing that can come to a sleeper is a dream.' ...When Dr. King explained what he saw in his dream, he wanted us to fight for our rights. But, we must remember that we are the non-violent movement...Today, we must make a commitment to stand up for rights...We will not accept what is wrong."
Later in the afternoon, congressmen John Lewis and Artur Davis led a Montgomery Improvement Association delegation to the spot where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus and a wreath was placed at the spot to remember the mother of the boycott movement.
Congressman Artur Davis praised the men and women who sacrificed much to sustain the bus boycott including Mrs. Rosa Parks. "Fifty years ago today something remarkable happened in this community. A quiet woman, but an audacious woman stood up by sitting down. We honor here again today and we honor countless others in the city who sustained this boycott. They're the unsung heroes of the boycott movement because there would have been no John Knight, no John Lewis, no Artur Davis without the audacity of these men and women."
Davis went on to talk about how far the country had come. "Our country was born in sin and in shame in many ways, but God made us changeable. There's a 63-year-old woman in this city who remembers sitting in the back of the bus and remembers being told to move. She gets to see her son as a United States congressman for the state of Alabama. God is good, our country is good and I'm thankful and honored to be here today."