A September 22, 1964 headline in The St. Louis American proclaimed St. Louis as the “Number One City in Civil Rights.” In the article, Judge Nathan Young argued that St. Louis—more than any other city in the U.S.—was preeminent in the country’s struggle for civil rights based on the number of Supreme Court cases [four] that originated in St. Louis and the city’s long history of protest that led to significant change.
The claim that Saint Louis is the most important city in U.S. civil rights history may seem surprising, but that’s because so much our city’s activist past has been forgotten. America’s civil rights history has too often been dominated by stories about a limited number of places, during a limited time period. Until Ferguson, Saint Louis had been largely left out of civil rights history. #1 in Civil Rights attempts to reclaim the role that Saint Louis had in U.S. civil rights history.
The Missouri History Museum’s, #1 in Civil Rights: The African-American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis examines the local civil rights movement and the city’s role in advancing the cause of racial justice. From activism to high court rulings, Saint Louis has been contesting racial inequities. #1 in Civil Rights uncovers a history that’s compelling and complex, but that all too often has been overlooked in the telling of the larger national narrative. That narrative includes four precedent-setting Supreme Court civil rights cases that originated in Saint Louis—possibly the most to ever reach the High Court from one source. It also includes events and battles that had significant impacts.
We arrived at Sand Island at about the time that the check engine light came on in the Prius. We were a little worried about it, but there wasn’t much we could do about it, so we went on with our day. At least the light wasn’t blinking. That would have been really bad. Sand Island is on BLM property. There is a boat launch, campground and about a hundred feet of rock wall covered in Anasazi petroglyphs. There is both figurative art and symbols. The nearby town of Bluff City, Utah boasts on its city limits sign, “Established 600 AD”.
Anne has been busy this week making home visits. She and the teacher that she will be long-term substituting for in the fall have set up appointments with as many of their students as they can. These home visits are something new to me. They certainly didn’t do this when our kids were in school. The idea of them is to give the students and the teacher a chance to meet each other, before school begins. These meetings are being conducted in the home. This sets them in a more neutral setting and gives the teacher a chance to meet the families too. Discipline is not much of a concern with these kids, but Anne can always tell them that she knows where they live.
We added New Mexico to our list of western states on this tour. We dropped down from Durango to Aztec National Monument, an ancient Pueblo ruin. Compared to Hovenweep and even Mesa Verde, this place is Iike the Big Apple. From there, we took US 64 into the Rockies. Anne topped 10,000 feet in the pass, where we saw snow patches, before we descended into Taos on the other side. Just before we made Taos, we stopped at the gorge of the Rio Grande River. It was a fantastic view. In Taos, we got a quaint old motel that was a little rundown, but more than made up for that in charm. Once installed, we started walking and shopping in this desert artist’s community and after the stores all closed, had a nice dinner outside in the cooling night.
Busy day, we were up and moving before sunrise and then we stayed on the road until well after sunset. It started with a dawn photo shoot, first from our patio at Goulding’s lodge and then at the visitors center in Monument Valley, where we also saw a road runner.
Afterwards, we returned to the lodge for breakfast. I had a plate of Navajo fry bread. Yum! Before we left, we toured Goulding’s original trading post, now a museum and the cabin that John Wayne stayed in. Wayne made his first movie in Monument Valley, Stagecoach. He and John Ford went on to make more westerns together there.
Our next stop was just up the road at Mile 13 on Utah 163. This iconic stretch of road has been used in many movies. It was used for the final shot of the Forest Gump cross country running sequence, the part where he quits running and also for the Thelma and Louise movie poster. A lot of other people were there too, all trying to capture this famous shot.
The next stop on our itinerary was the Sand Island petroglyphs near Bluff, UT. This BLM site has about 100′ of carved sandstone. There were hundreds of carvings and the light was perfect for viewing them.
About this time I noticed that the check engine light was on. If you recall, on the previous day, in Monument Valley, I had tried going 4-wheeling in the Prius. I’m sure that this idiot light was the result of that idiotic little escapade. Feelings of dread cast a pall on our visit to the Hovenweep National Monument, a remote, but excellent ancient Pueblo site. We pressed on regardless. When we eventually reached Cortez, CO, Ryan at Midas was able to put our worries to rest. He read the code as a momentary overheating of the catalytic converter, cleared the code and knock on my wooden head, it hasn’t reoccurred. Hopefully, we’ll make it home safely, where we’ll get it checked out.
Mesa Verde, our eighth national park on this trip, was next. We were here before, some years ago with Jay’s family. We had fun with them then and wanted to see the park again. Finally, we crash landed for the night at a motel in Durango.