Romance Slam Jam 2012: What a Ride!

 

Romance Slam Jam 2012: What a Ride! PART 1

Well its been a while but with good reason.  I’ve been on the road for almost two weeks now.  Thankfully, I’m back home now.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel, but sometimes you just want to stop and breathe.

Anyhoo, I guess I should give you all an update on how this year’s Romance Slam Jam in Little Rock, AR turned out.  The four-day romance conference for readers of multicultural romance can be easily summed up in one word – FANTASTIC!

As always, it was great running into old friends I made at last year’s conference, like Ms. Donnie, and then finally meeting people you’ve only emailed with back and forth, like the beautiful Latrivia Nelson.

Napolean ready to go!

Unlike last year, this year’s Romance Slam Jam turned into sort of a Civil Rights Pilgrimage for me.  Since I hail from the sunshine state, I had to take Interstate 22 to get to Little Rock. 

And this highway takes you through three of the most important southern cities, which sparked the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. So instead of driving nonstop to Little Rock, like I initally wanted to, I decided to break the trip up into several overnight stops along the way.

My first stop landed me in Birmingham, Alabama. Due to its interesting history as one of the birthplace’s of the Civil Rights movement, I’ve always wanted to visit this landlocked city. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his prolific, Letter from a Birmingham Jail while sitting in one of the city’s dirty jail cells and the nation witnessed the indiscriminate brutality of racism when a bombed planted by segregationist exploded inside the 16th Street Baptist church and killed four girls.

The people in Birmingham reminded of Savannahians.  They’re really warm and friendly and call you ‘sugar’ or ‘honey’ after the first five minutes of meeting you.  For example, when I stopped to get gas at Shell, I was given a Happy Wednesday greeting by the station owner. He’d written on my bag while I was looking for chocolate. Totally caught me off guard and brightened my day.

Birminghamians Rock!
 
And like Savannah, the food in Birmingham is great!  I ate at Green Acres Cafe, a stop and go cafe downtown. I’d heard the fried chicken is the best, but I opted for a fish sandwhich (without the bones) with a side order of fried okra and could not have been happier.
 

After lunch, I rolled down to Birmingham’s Civil Rights Institute and the 16th Street Baptist Church and spent the rest of the colored’s only water fountains and restaurants, the actual bars of the jail cell Martin Luther King spent his time after ‘illegally’ parading in downtown Birmingham, an actual Klu Klux Klan robe, the front half of the Freedom Ride Bus that was fire bombed the second day into its southbound journey in 1961 and even a traveling photo exhibit, “Living in Limbo: Lesbian Families in the Deep South,” by professional photographer Carolyn Sherer.

16th St. Baptist Church

I know I shouldn’t have been shocked by all the images and memorabilia, but its one thing to read about your history in a book another to see it up close. It was both humbling and awe-inspiring to see how far your community has come to gain inclusion in society and yet has so much farther to go.     

I guess this is a good place to stop and pick up tomorrow.  Since my journey was a week long, consisted of more than 2,000 miles and four cities, I think its best to break up the trip into sections. 

If you want to see how I fared in Memphis, check back tomorrow! Want to see the entire photo album from my trip, friend me on Facebook!

 

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