Bay City, Michigan 48706
Front Page 10/02/2023 14:47 About us
Home Sports Community Arts/Theater Business Economy - Local The Scene
History Health/Fitness Contests
Issue 1207 April 10, 2011
(Prior Story)   History ArTicle 11214   (Next Story)

RECALLING DR. KING: A Visit to His Church in Alabama was Inspiring

April 4, 2018       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

Printer Friendly Story View

Lone worshipper honors birthday of fallen Civil Rights icon at Dr. King's church in Montgomery, Alabama in 2006. ( photo)

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a column from posted in 2006 and reprinted here in honor of the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, April 8, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. May he, and the nation, find lasting peace.)

The occasion was a trip to a place I had never been before -- Montgomery, Alabama.

The event I was to visit was the induction of pioneer Bay City founder James Gillespie Birney in the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame.

Abolitionist Birney was not that popular when he lived in Huntsville 1819 to 1833. Attitudes about race have changed greatly in the ensuing 175 years, but it still took a long time for the Alabama Lawyers Association to decide to recognize Birney and a fellow lawyer, Clement Comer Clay from the same era.

My trip was very nearly a disaster; I had failed to bring enough cash, vastly underestimating the cost of cabs, etc. So I found myself broke, standing in the hot sun 15 miles from the downtown Alabama Supreme Court rotunda where the ceremony was to take place.

I had counted on a somewhat elderly Mr. Lane of Lane's Taxi Company to pick me up at the motel as he had promised. "If I don't wake up in time, my nephew Greg will come and get you."

I had been turned away in attempts to get cash at the motel, at the ATM (you can get a pin number in a week, a voice at the credit card company told me), a check cashing place, Dunkin' Donuts and the gas station

. Kicking and cursing myself for being such a dummy, I was relieved when Greg Lane, the nephew, called my cell phone. "Where are you?" he exclaimed as I hustled back to the motel where he was to pick me up.

"Money, why we'll just run down the highway here to the Regions Bank and I'm sure they'll fix you up on your credit card."

Nope, no account with Regions, no cash, no how.

I was riding on Greg's nickel with not a cent to pay him. "Maybe I can send you a check later after I get back to Michigan?" Greg looked fish-eyed at me.

A friendly credit union manager right downtown Montgomery took pity on me and bailed me out. She mentioned my Claddagh ring so I figured it was the luck of the Irish that paid off. Stuffing the cash in my wallet, I went outside but Greg, the cab and my briefcase with my camera were gone.

This is going to be a trip for the books, I ruminated. Despair had not quite overtaken me when Greg drove up hollering "I was running out of gas and had to run to the station." I had not lost faith in him anyway.

We still had an hour to kill before the ceremony so Greg took me to the Rosa Parks Museum commemorating the courage of the woman who refused to give up her seat on a city bus and helped spark the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955. (A bus in the museum has a diorama of the events of that historic day. The actual bus is in the Henry Ford, Dearborn.)

After the event, a kindly lady who was a friend of Herman Hoffman (Topper) Birney (great-great-grandson of James G. Birney) and his wife Sherry took me to the airport. (By coincidence Topper ended up in his distinguished ancestor's former home when his father was assigned to the 'rocket city' in World War II.) Topper is a member of the Huntsville School Board.

On the way, we stopped at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where Rev. Martin Luther King preached 1954-1960. There a guide took us through the church and Dr. King's office.

Words from his "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" echoed in the cool dark interior on that sweltering day: "Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities . . ."

Mists of time have obscured the fact that the letter was in response to eight fellow clergymen who wrote that his civil rights activities "were untimely and unwise."

And, I could almost hear his immortal words from August 28, 1963, in Washington, D.C.: "I have a dream . . ."

I guess the best way I can honor the memory of Dr. King on his birthday is to write this column recalling that I visited his church and his office. And that a young cab driver -- who did not have to -- took pity on a hapless Yankee journalist. It was an inspirational and unforgettable experience.

Printer Friendly Story View
Prior Article

February 10, 2020
by: Rachel Reh
Family Winter Fun Fest is BACC Hot Spot for 2/10/2020
Next Article

February 2, 2020
by: Kathy Rupert-Mathews
MOVIE REVIEW: "Just Mercy" ... You Will Shed Tears, or at Least You Should
Agree? or Disagree?

Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at

More from Dave Rogers

Send This Story to a Friend!       Letter to the editor       Link to this Story
Printer-Friendly Story View

--- Advertisments ---

0200 Nd: 09-28-2023 d 4 cpr 1

12/31/2020 P3v3-0200-Ad.cfm


12/31/2020 drop ads P3v3-0200-Ad.cfm

Designed at OJ Advertising, Inc. (V3) (v3) Software by Mid-Michigan Computer Consultants
Bay City, Michigan USA
All Photographs and Content Copyright © 1998 - 2023 by OJA/MMCC. They may be used by permission only.
P3V3-0200 (1) 0   ID:Default   UserID:Default   Type:reader   R:x   PubID:mbC   NewspaperID:1207
  pid:1560   pd:11-18-2012   nd:2023-09-28   ax:2023-10-02   Site:5   ArticleID:11214   MaxA: 999999   MaxAA: 999999
CCBot/2.0 (