Troy University’s Rosa Parks Library and Museum
Troy University’s Rosa Parks Library and Museum, a major landmark in the revitalization of downtown Montgomery, was constructed on the site of the old Empire Theatre where Mrs. Parks made her courageous and historic stand in 1955. Six distinct and unique areas inside this interpretive museum tell the story of bravery and courage of early Civil Rights warriors.
Visitors are transported through time from the early 1800s to the beginning of the “Jim Crow” era where they observe scenes of segregation and social and legal challenges made by individuals like Harriet Tubman, Dred Scott and Homer Plessy.
Artifacts include: a restored 1955 station wagon, known during the Bus Boycott as a “rolling church;” a replica of the public bus on which Mrs. Parks was sitting that day; and original historical documents of the 382-day Montgomery Bus Boycott, which are loaned to the museum by the city of Montgomery. Visitors not only learn important Civil Rights history, but also enjoy the theatrical reenactment of Mrs. Park’s experience on the bus that evening, as well as hear personal testimonials from many of those who participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and 1956.
In the new Children’s Wing, visitors “go back in time” on the Cleveland Avenue Time Machine to discover that things just don’t happen — people make things happen. Visitors come to realize that they, too, can make a difference just as Rosa Parks, E.D. Nixon, Jo Ann Robinson, Fred Gray, Claudette Colvin and many others made a difference following in the footsteps of Dred Scott, Harriet Tubman, Homer Plessy and others who had gone on before them.
As visitors encounter the Cleveland Avenue Time Machine, they see what they think is a Hollywood version of a standard 1955 Montgomery city bus. On closer inspection they discover the vehicle has no wheels and indeed appears to be floating above a layer of violet-colored light. The vehicle is surrounded by a strange array of imposing equipment, lighting effects, glowing pipes and low fog. On one side of the vehicle, huge time diodes are ready to trigger time travel. On the other side, a similarly imposing sequence of equipment is surrounded by a strange array of imposing lighting effects, glowing pipes and low fog — an imposing sequence of equipment that represents the collection and acceleration of “tachyons” to power the time diodes.
The strange machineries of time travel emit pulsing light in random patterns as though their circuitry has somehow been damaged by fast traveling tachyons. The effect is designed to make guests sense that huge energies might be under somewhat imperfect control. Strange and very low frequency audio effects envelop the space. Surrounding walls seem to be undulating in colorful abstract patterns as images from all eras of history drift by. Cloud ceiling lighting fires in random patterns as though it is heated lightning. These effects occur prior to and after the program. Strange and very low frequency audio effects envelop the space. Guests approach the bus entrance door along a railed walkway. They enter the bus and meet the driver, a curious assemblage of engine parts. His eyes are glowing and light is pulsing along his limbs. His name is “Mr. Rivets” and he greets visitors in a strange mechanical voice.
Visitors are transported through time from the early 1800s to the beginning of the “Jim Crow” era where they observe scenes of segregation and social and legal challenges made by individuals like Harriet Tubman, Dred Scott and Homer Plessy. Visitors also learn about the various legal challenges that helped reshape the thinking of the 20th century that discrimination and segregation were both immoral and illegal.
Upon returning back through time to Montgomery, Alabama, visitors are encouraged to visit the second floor Research Center, where they can learn much more about the legal and social challenges involving a segregated bus system in Montgomery, Alabama. In addition, visitors can view numerous historical documents and hear testimonials of men and women who actually participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and 1956.
Arkansas State University
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