July 13, 2012

Alabama – “The Yellowhammer State”

 

 

Alabama Map

 

Just the Facts…

bird – Yellowhammer
flower – Camelia
tree – Longleaf Pine
capital – Montgomery
union – 22nd state on June 15, 1836
population – almost 5 million

 

 

The Basics 

Alabama sits in between Georgia and Mississippi along the Gulf of Mexico.  It is thought that the name “Alabama” came from the Native American tribe that lived in the area, the “Alibamu.”

The Appalachian Mountains run diagonally through Alabama, making most of the northern part quite mountainous.  The southern part of Alabama flattens out as it reaches the Gulf of Mexico.  Alabama has 53 miles of coastline on the Gulf.  Summer is HOT, HOT, HOT in Alabama!

 

Its Claim to Fame

Some people view Alabama as the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.  While it is hard to pinpoint one specific place or event that may have started it all, Alabama indeed was pivotal in the beginning of the fight for civil rights.  The people in the Civil Rights Movement fought for equal treatment of blacks and whites – so that kids of both races can go to school together, play t-ball together and play at the park together.   Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated peacefully to get their point across – using marches, speeches, sit-ins, and demonstrations.  For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. led a march from Selma to Montgomery.

The most famous civil rights event to take place in Alabama was in Montgomery – Rosa Parks refused to ride in the back of a public bus.  On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested because she refused to give up her seat for a white person that boarded the bus.  At that time, there were rules designed to segregate backs from whites on the Montgomery public buses.  If there were no more seats on a bus, then a whole row of black people had to give up their seats to create a new white row.   After Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to follow that rule, Martin Luther King, Jr. led a boycott of the public transportation in Montgomery – no blacks rode the bus for over a year!  Rosa Parks was fined $10 but she appealed her conviction.  Her case eventually made it to the US Supreme Court!  The Court ruled that Montgomery’s system of segregation on public transportation was unconstitutional.  This was a huge victory for the Civil Rights Movement, and Rosa Parks didn’t have to ride in the back of the bus anymore!

 

What Makes it Tick

Alabama was primarily an agricultural state for many years.  Alabama is part of the “Black Belt,” which was named for its black and fertile soil.  Plantation owners all over Alabama prospered until the Civil War threatened their way of life.  After the Civil War, Alabama suffered economic hardship until it was able to diversify its economy around World War II.

Birmingham has been called the “Pittsburgh of the South” – it produces a lot of iron and steel.  As a result, Alabama has become as a center for car manufacturing.  Many car companies have factories in Alabama – Mercedes, Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai. Does your family have one of these cars? Maybe it was made in Alabama! We looked up the VIN for our Honda minivan, and we think it was made in Alabama!

Timber is big business in Alabama.  Those Appalachian Mountains have a lot of forests, which has supported the Alabama timber industry for over a hundred years.  The first sawmills were powered by water, from the miles and miles of rivers that flow through Alabama.  Alabama timber was brought to Mobile (which is a city on the Gulf of Mexico) and sent by ship all over the world.   A unique item made by the Alabama timber industry is transmission poles – do you have poles in your neighborhood that brings the electricity or telephone to all the houses?  Well, those telephone or electric poles may have been made in Alabama!

 

If You Visited

You may want to go fishing if you visit Alabama! It is known for both ocean fishing and freshwater fishing.   Bass fishing is big in Alabama – you can find great spots to catch bass, from the mountains all the way down to the delta.

If you visited Alabama, you may tour the Moundville Archeological Site in Moundville, Alabama.  It is one of the biggest and most important Native American excavation sites in the United States.  Over a thousand years ago, Native Americans made the mound site their home.  It was a community that included houses as well as political and religious buildings.  The site contains a series of plazas and mounds – it is thought that each clan (or extended family) claimed a mound for their residence, and the plazas were the community areas for political and spiritual life.  Many things have been excavated from the site, which give insight into how these people lived.  For example, quite a bit of dried maize was found, which was probably traded for the luxury goods found, such as pottery and copper.

Alabama is also home to countless historic sites and museums dedicated to both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement.  You could even see a replica of a 1955 public bus at the Rosa Parks Museum!

 

Want to Know More? 

Check our Alabama state scrapbook for an industry map, state symbols and information we received from the Governor and Board of Tourism.

Do you live in Alabama? Or, maybe you have visited Alabama?  We want to hear from you!!  Post a comment at the end of this page.

  • What is your very favorite thing about Alabama?
  • What is your favorite thing to eat?
  • What is your favorite thing to do?
  • What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?

Do you have any photos of Alabama to share? Email them to: info@grandtourkids.com. Or, post them to our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GrandTourKids

Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about Alabama.  Visit these websites to learn more:

http://moundville.ua.edu/visitor-information/

http://www.alabama.travel

http://montgomery.troy.edu/rosaparks/museum/