My 15-month-old son and I had MLK, Jr. Day off together. Since moving to Birmingham in July, I’d visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute here in town as well as many of the museums/historic sites in Montgomery, but had not yet ventured to another local city with a key role in the civil rights movement: Selma, Alabama. Thus, we decided to take a day trip to Selma in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.
My son woke up on MLK Day around 12:30 a.m. and again at 4:00 a.m. (which is a topic for an entirely different post, but I’m assuming he was excited for our day in Selma). After what seemed like half of a day at home, we were ready to leave Birmingham around 8:30 in time to get to our first stop – the Old Depot Museum – by 10:00 a.m. when they opened.
During our drive to Selma, he was able to catch up on his sleep (it apparently is exhausting waking up so much at night) and I was able to listen to a book on tape courtesy of the Homewood Public Library (LOVE our local library system and the opportunity to listen to so many great books on tape for FREE!). Using my GPS, I pulled into the outskirts of Selma right around my goal of 10:00 a.m. While I was driving down Broad Street (aka Main Street in Selma) on my way to the Old Depot Museum, I drove past a cute little clothing and home décor boutique called Queen City Market. My curiosity was sparked in two ways: 1) Why was Selma nicknamed “Queen City”? and 2) I wondered if that cute outfit on display was in my size? So, I quickly circled around the block and pulled into a parking space directly in front of the shop. My son was still sleeping in his car seat, so I had time to Google “Why is Selma called the Queen City?” The answer to that question, my friends, supposedly can be traced back to 1820 when future Vice President of the United States William Rufus Kind named the land along the Alabama River “Selma” – meaning high seat or throne. Dallas County later became the leading cotton producer in the state, with the “Queen City” nickname supported by their dominant role producing cotton.
I clicked my son’s car seat into his stroller and went in to peruse the store. Inside, I had the opportunity to chat with the sweet owner Mandy and was impressed with her taste, style, and entrepreneurship – you go, girl! Since I had a 15 month old who was in a good mood post-nap, I decided to take my chances and try out a couple outfits. They were stylish, comfortable, and on sale — a wonderful combination! Not wanting to push my luck with a toddler, I took my purchases to the front and quickly checked out while discussing other local attractions with the girl at the checkout counter. She handed me my bag and told me to enjoy the rest of my day.
After getting my son back in the car, we headed to the first stop of our day: The Old Depot Museum. After parking, getting my wiggly guy out of his car seat, unloading his stroller, taking his photo in front of the historic building, and putting him back in the stroller, we were finally ready to go inside and learn a bit of local history. We were not only greeted by a kind lady named Beth, but also by her friend Randy who jumped up to help me maneuver the stroller up the ramp and through the doorway. However, when I went to pay my admission fee, I noted my credit card wasn’t in my wallet. I assumed that in my haste, I had stuck it in my shopping bag with the receipt from Queen City Market and went back out to the car to look for it. However, it wasn’t there. Before I could Google the phone number to the Queen City Market, Beth at the Old Depot Museum was calling her friend Mandy back at the boutique. Sure enough, it was sitting on the counter. Randy, who is every bit a Southern gentleman, offered to hop in his truck and retrieve it for me. By the time he was there and back, I wouldn’t have been done loading the stroller and strapping my son back in the car seat. While he was gone, I chatted with Beth like I would a friend. To me, this is how I imagined small town life in Alabama: where you can trust total strangers to get your credit card and within moments have them become true friends.
After we were done exploring the Old Depot Museum, we said goodbye to our new friend Beth and went off to explore a few other historical sites around Selma including the Edmund Pettus Bridge, National Voting Rights Museum, and Civil Rights Memorial Park. I also got a latte from The Coffee Shoppe (see above, but caffeine is a prerequisite to survival until my son learns how to consistently sleep through the night) and picked up some takeout from Lannie’s Bar-B-Q on our way back to Birmingham. To quote my husband, Lannie’s had “the BEST smoked ribs in Alabama!” We eat a lot of local BBQ, so that statement carries some credibility!
If you are looking for an educational day trip from Birmingham and want to support a wonderful small town community, then I HIGHLY recommend taking a day trip to Selma!