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Alabama the making and the history
03 ianuarie 2021

Alabama the making


 I remember in preschool one of my teachers asked us what do you want to be when you grow up do you want to be a garbage man do you want to be a police officer do you want to be a firefighter a doctor I don't want to be any of those things you know I mean sometimes I wanted I wanted to be an astronaut to be honest but that wasn't gonna happen so I focused on the art and I realized the time that I have is not infinite you know when you ask yourself those questions where does God come from where do we go when we die even as a young kid I thought wow I better do something that I really really like because that's gonna be a lot of my time.

 you know the quality is most important and to watch the bronzes doesn't seem like a good idea when is the veiling I thought it was the 19th or something . this call is because it looks like we're gonna have to put the deadline of installation mere days before the unveiling which of course makes everyone very nervous I'm very nervous because you know the quality of the work as an artist represents you and your efforts and the foundry at this point has a lot to say about that and if they have to rush the job it might not turn out well and I know that they're equally dedicated to making sure it turns out well which is why we're looking into pushing the deadline back slightly by a month and some change so we're hoping that that month buys us enough time to get this job done I don't know it seems it's definitely if he I know that the foundry has got a lot of professionals there and that they're dedicated to the quality and that you know maybe I'll have to hire a bunch  more people it's gonna be a madhouse they're putting the pedal to the metal and getting as many high-quality people working as possible to get this job done.

we're coming into the Alabama Bicentennial Commission office we're in the Commerce building in downtown Montgomery not far from the Capitol we've been fortunate because the Alabama tourism department has offered a space over the last five years so our office could be centrally located this is it this is where the Commission hangs out when the Commission first came together to think about what was important and what was going to be meaningful to undertake over the course of the Bicentennial they made a real commitment to things that are going to outlast the Bicentennial so we wanted to invest our time and our resources in something that would be part of the celebration but also would be there after the bicentennial act of the celebration and we created a category of projects called legacy projects and at the top of the list was Alabama Bicentennial Park one of the things we wanted for the Bicentennial was some kind of legacy project something that we as Alabamians can all look back on and certainly be proud of and so we looked around the the city of Montgomery where you know the epicenter of government in our state to have a legacy project that would last for generations and tell the story the our first 200 years and that's how we came up with the idea of the current Bicentennial Park design Bicentennial Park was created to occupied the west side of the Capitol Complex in between the actual Capitol building but before you get to the attorney general's Building in the Lurleen Wallace building Alabama has an important historic place in these in the United States to have a park that observes the time before a state and sort of takes visitors and people through the different epochs in the state's experience in history I think that that's an important thing to have happen and these monuments capture an element of that history I think in a very unique way it's a place where Alabamians have gathered over the centuries whenever there was a momentous occasion of either celebration or protest a place where Alabamians come to express themselves you think about this place as being a spot where important conversations take place and where Alabamians think about who we are as a people and where we want to go in the future how we make sure that this is a story at this new beautiful public art installation that represents all of our experiences and the entire geographic and chronological scope of Alabama history so that no matter where you're from in our state when you come to Montgomery and you visit Bicentennial Park you're gonna see something from your corner of Alabama some important period some important event that will help to illuminate this incredibly rich history that we all share we met with Caleb early on and discussed general ideas of what the panel should reflect ideas of time frames and gave it to Caleb along with lots of research from the archives and Caleb went and started doing sketches and last summer we met in Tuscaloosa Caleb's studio and got the opportunity to see one of the first few panels he had put in clay and there in front of us was the vasila Saurus and we were blown away we didn't know what to expect so we come in and we see this panel and it is so amazing the artistic creativity in it but also the deep relief figures coming out we were amazed and so pleased and that really kind of set the tone going forward .Alabama  history so panel 1 is depicting when Alabama was essentially for the most part covered by the ocean and it was a very shallow ocean and it gave life and harbored you know creatures such as the bacillus aureus which is now extinct animal there's a lot that we can accomplish in using this particular depiction it is a way for us to introduce the idea that life here has a very long history Montgomery was either underwater or right at the seashore there was just kind of fascinating to let Caleb really run with that the composition is totally created by him but it's all fact-based I mean they're fossils that were found here and he incorporated those and kind of brought those to life in panel 1 this panel depicts the rich history of life as found in in Alabama as we find many critters and this panel from the Cretaceous period we find critters from the EUC period as well spend it was very important because it depicts the rich history in terms of animal and plant life in Alabama what people may not realize necessarily is that before humans arrives and many animals and plants were already around in Alabama and it's very important that important part of Alabama's history is actually displayed in those panels Wow look how much Alabama has changed in this length of time that it used to be an ocean it was filled with this this sea life that they can find in fossilized form today you go to the University of Alabama and you can see a complete bacillus Oris just hanging from the ceiling and I wanted the initial panel just like any good story it has to grab your attention immediately and I wanted the people that are looking at it to begin to realize that there are some points in time that you can't have a photograph of there's some points in time that you need to use your imagination to appreciate and understand part of our story is that the land that we inhabit now was once covered by an ocean inhabited by these giant sea creatures it's fascinating Kalib use real fossils found in the state of Alabama and one of the two biggest ones is for example mosasaur which is depicted on the left hand side and here we've got a real fossil of a mosasaur which is an ancient marine reptile living during she's period in great parts of Alabama and Alabama was mostly underwater actually so to the right of that we have another giant animal and this animal is actually a state fossil of Alabama which is an ancient we'll say ancient whale is called bacillus or acid toy tease at a time was the main predator living in the oceans in the southern part of Alabama when that part of Alabama was underwater in 1833 they first discovered the bacillus aureus fossil in Clark County and in 1984 the bacillus Soros fossil was designated as the official state fossil of Alabama mount bill is the second panel in the series and it's something that's very dear to me I've spent a lot of time there it's near Tuscaloosa and it was at its time in 1200 CE II the largest Kingdom or inhabited city if you will of the Native Americans we knew that we needed to quickly move into human history in Alabama if we're celebrating the people of Alabama we need to celebrate those people as well Alabama's Bicentennial celebrates the culture of Alabama our heritage that represents for us 200 years but we know that it goes back so much further than that folks have been here for thousands of years it's a beautiful park site now but it's not inhabited Kaleb was really able to bring to life what the ruins we know now would have been like when they were thousands of people living there and you know their lives were there Malvo was surrounded by a palisade wall that went from riverbank all the way around a riverbank on the other side and within that wall there was probably somewhere around 3,000 people and so if you could imagine that was a huge amount of people in that at that point in time and they were doing everything from agriculture to hunting and raising fish in ponds so they were by no means a nomadic people in fact they had been settled since that time up until the removal in some ways the apex of the Native American society that it existed here before Europeans and Africans arrived was best represented by the Mississippian culture that predominated for about a five hundred year period here from about 1,000 to around 1500 and this was when we were going to do this outside of Montgomery so this is actually not Moundville almost every single thing about this panel changed these guys are no longer there we decided to go before European contact so it's pure Native American culture you see another boat here another boat here so later on I added mound villain had Palisades around it so you couldn't see anything how would you ever know this when you look at Moundville now it is a beautiful place and I encourage everyone to visit it but it looked very different at the time that it was inhabited so I'm just gonna put these dudes up here so I could check them out this guy is missing a hand huh Oh perfect yeah that was a moving moment that I really like this piece it's most complex one looks good yeah but this one I need to I need to put some guns on this one's ready to roll except for her face I need to rework that if he's gonna be working with this wax it's got like a high plasticity to it so warm tools are great to work with so he's gonna go back in and model and we're just prepping them with a little hot plate I'm fashioning the small components that are too difficult to cast and clay and wax one of the reasons you use wax because it's harder you can make it into a liquid state like you're seeing now but then you can keep it harder and more rigid so that it won't Bend or dry out in the air for example since it's oil-based so it gives you a lot of opportunities that clay doesn't give you but it has drawbacks mainly in that it's difficult to work comparatively this is for the Battle of Horseshoe Bend and I'm making a Native American War Club so panel three of the Bicentennial project is the Battle of Horseshoe Bend and its primary significance is that up until this point Alabama was controlled by the creek nation Horseshoe Bend you know as I guess the first of the panels that really brings up some of the conflict and kind of you know harder part of Alabama history one thing with the park we really want to show you know really celebrate a lot of things but also not shy away from some of the harder parts of our history and the conflict that we've had here the park was designed to depict these important moments for turning points in Alabama's past no turning point in Alabama history is more important than the Battle of Horseshoe Bend essentially what you see here is the Battle of Horseshoe Bend where Andrew Jackson has cornered 800 had speculated to 1,200 Creek warriors who had built this zigzag in palace aid all the way across this peninsular piece of land that was surrounded by a river it led to this very violent hand-to-hand combat that ultimately led to the deaths of more than 800 Red Stick warriors and really broke the backs of the the Red Stick people that was the last battle of the war there were a few survivors that managed to escape but it for all intents and purposes they destroyed the remnant of the Red Stick warriors there at that battle it soon led to a treaty under which the Creek Nation ceded a huge swath of Alabama to the United States in the primary drawing we did the surrender to Andrew Jackson I decided maybe we needed to make a change after speaking to some Native American friends of mine on the issue and just saying well how do you feel about this subject first of all because it involves their history it involves their ancestral home which we are now on called Alabama and so I wanted to get their opinion and many of them said well why would you show the surrender when you could have shown the valiant fight that we put forward when he's surrendering to Andrew Jackson makes the statement that they would fight them still but that killed all of his warriors almost 40% of the land that would ultimately become the state of Alabama was handed over in the Treaty of Fort Jackson and that moment was the key moment that opened up Alabama to settlement by farmers and planters coming in from Georgia and the Carolinas and Virginia who will come in to Alabama and set up this extremely prosperous cotton producing economy that's going to take place here so it was definitely a conflict it's a challenging panel but it was a pivotal part and in the history of Alabama as the state this panel is the one that really connects most directly to the story of the Bicentennial this idea that we're celebrating Alabama's 200th year of the statehood we knew that we wanted to depict something that took place in Huntsville in 1819 because that's where the Constitutional Convention met that wrote our state's first constitution the process of becoming a state involved adopting a state constitution and then sending that document to Washington DC for approval by Congress we really wanted to show not just a bunch of guys sitting around in a room with a quill pen or whatever writing a document but how that would it kind of started impacting the people who lived in the state panel for the Bicentennial project is depicting the first printing of the first constitution of Alabama I love how the artists depicted this street scene which took place the day after the Constitution was written so different people from different walks of life were able to come together and now read and see and hear this new governing document for the state of Alabama it's the first kind of glimpse of even though everybody in the panel comes from different backgrounds and and has different roles within society they're all impacted and excited about this new thing coming and taking place in Alabama becoming a territory and then ultimately as a state this is panel five of the Bicentennial project and what we're seeing here is a river landing for steamboats this scene on the bank of the river and Clayburn allowed us to illustrate what some of the components are in this new economy and how important it was for them to work together in a specific way the boats here we have one coming up river from mobile bringing slaves into central Alabama that would then be sold and work on plantations and then we have another boat going down river that would be carrying cotton and other goods down to market and mobile what we really decided to focus on was one of those terrible moments in history which was basically the human slave trade and so we see what's a slave coughing and a slave Gothel is simply a way in which human beings that were being sold would be transported in lines of two chained at the ankles and the wrists and then two one another in a line of maybe 20 people sometimes I have a group right in the front depicting men and women and especially I focused on a pregnant woman and I decided to focus on that because you know when you bought and sold someone you also own the rights to their to their children seeing the panel and seeing the pregnant woman with a chain going across her belly I can't imagine as a mom now having a child and not really having any say-so over their life as it goes through my mind I'm literally imagining what life would be like in that and even just the mental thought of seeing this chain across this pregnant lady and she has no voice she has no control over what's going to happen to her child or with her child I can only imagine the pain and hurt to sculpt something like this I'll do it to the best of my abilities because it deserves to be brought to light not as not as something beautiful but as something tragic we were discussing that particular panel I became a little bit emotional about that panel but I wanted them to do was not to hide what was happening to these people that these people were not considered human they were actually considered property or cargo and that we today needs to realize that that was happening this has happened before many times before over various issues and and the issues will be different and it will happen in the future right and so do be able to deal with that in a more on sober way I think requires that you understand the past by having a park like the Centennial Park we equip our young people with the necessary tools to address unforeseen challenges of the future basically what I need is like Craig's you know grocery walking yeah it's like bring your produce here anyway the vegetables keep in this room oh this was cold too without the air conditioning the the panels were warping when we were dipping them in the ceramic shell and hanging them or putting them on shelves the weight was too great for the heat so we had to air-conditioned the whole space because of Alabama I'm working almost 24 hours a day now the studio is working that to get these things finished and with the quality that we need I can only work so many hours a day and do what I do well so I'm enlisting the help of many people to help with the mold making and other aspects that I can afford to have them work on we've had some unexpected interruptions and the process that have led to being overburdened timewise and so what we're doing to maintain the day deadline is to enlist the help of a large what we call a production foundry they're taking on half the project so we've kept a to the panels with the original foundry and the other eight we're doing in Wyoming that's another reason I'm a little a little stressed for time here is because  now I need to go to Wyoming to do the waxes the historical memory of the last 200 years of this state deserves the greatest attention we can provide it I take it very seriously and I know that my team does and everyone involved does and so we want to give the greatest effort into preserving the quality integrity of the project panel six of the Bicentennial project is depicting the Battle of Mobile Bay but we're showing a team of cannoneers here Manning the cannons and this was a major turning point in the civil war the battle that unfolded at Fort Morgan in the summer of 1864 was one of the most dramatic moments of the civil war in our state if you look at the way that Caleb depicted this moment you could just feel the energy you could smell the Gunpowder you can feel the heat coming off the cannons you can hear the shouting this is one of those really famous naval engagements in American history when Admiral Farragut's fleet sails into Mobile Bay past the fort the Confederates there are firing furiously everything that they can at the Union fleet and inflicting significant damage and sinking some of those some of those vessels Admiral Farragut's going to famously declare damn the torpedoes full speed ahead six hundred Alabamians here that were defending the point actually have quoted multiple shots of lead and shell raining down upon the fortification casting dark shadows upon them this battle made a very significant impact on our nation's future after this battle the Confederacy soon collapsed which ultimately gave us the opportunity to abolish slavery so what we have here is panel seven the free citizens of Florence and it's showing John right Pierre and his son James and John was a freedman so he is born a slave and had become free what it's showing is the beginning of the African American vote at the end of the civil war in 1865 four hundred thousand enslaved Alabamians suddenly have their freedom Alabama had to write a new state constitution to comply with the requirements of Congress regarding how reconstruction was perceived one of the provisions of that law was that an African American would be appointed in each of these voting districts to oversee the process of registering African Americans to vote for the first time you think about the amazing change that's happening in these people's lives that go from living in slavery to becoming free to becoming citizens to becoming voters in a very short period of time so this is a an occasion that's very solemn on the one hand but also as you can see in the image full of a lot of celebration and enthusiasm as well it tells a story a lesser-known story that's not celebrated or written in the textbooks but it gives you the human side of their victorious moment how excited they are that they get to make decisions that will impact not only just the state of Alabama but the world from the accounts they're very happy they're very excited to have been given their freedom and you can imagine after all of that all of those years of oppression and slavery to finally see an action the fact that they could vote but it ended up being the birthplace of their declaration of freedom if you will the point where they said well we have the right to elect our own representatives we have the right to have our voices heard and they began to do that one of the things that I appreciate most about this panel is that it depicts the recording secretary who's sitting at the desk riding down the actions and the word of the people who were assembled there and especially for the State Archives here where records are at the heart of what we do it's appreciated as an indication of how important that  function is that our records that we have collected and preserved here over the decades are what allows us to know about this past look back at this event and understand what was happening in this gathering in this modest Church in Florence that was so pivotal and so instrumental and helping African Americans to exercise their newly won rights as Americans [Music] Faneuil eight is depicting Sloss furnace something that you see on the skyline of Birmingham and one of the one of the fascinating things about Sloss furnace is just to me visiting it was how beautiful it is here at Sloss furnaces this museum really tells the story of why Birmingham exists without the iron industry Birmingham would never have become a city Birmingham got its start because of the iron business you know there's a lot of naturally-occurring iron in the area processing that there was a huge demand for iron at that time they did this originally using the floor itself this floor used to be a compact sand all the way down the shed the men would dig a design into the grounds it puts people in proximity with this molten iron award that's pouring out of this giant furnace and running in troughs along this large sand floor and then running off into ninety degree angles into other channels where eventually is going to cool into pieces of iron ore called pigs this is where the term pig iron comes from it's in the process that we're seeing depicted by Caleb here this is one of the pieces created where scales very important because in an industrial environment all of a sudden human beings are not necessarily the most dynamic or impressive component in the scene you've got this machinery that is capable of producing vast amounts of iron is producing enormous heat injuries where a frequent deaths happened not infrequently but it's what people had to do to make a living it's one of those living landmarks of history that's just on the edge of dilapidation but in a beautiful way it's a sign I think also of how people's strive to keep history alive even if it has out served its use as a foundry of a furnace and it's being used by artists which i think is incredible I think that's a wonderful opportunity but I'm most fascinated by how how the community just really wants to keep a hold of this [Music] [Music] the 1901 panel is another one of our lists or known stories but very significant on the state of Alabama Francis Griffin in the panel is addressing the all-male legislature about women's lack of voting rights at the time she really had become the face of the suffrage movement in Alabama by 1901 and she had developed a following really she was known nationally for being a great speech Giver they didn't want her to speak there was some men that were against her speaking she'd been teacher in that community for many years but she had taught many of these people I was sitting in front of her she had also taught many many young ladies so when they found out that she was going to speak they all showed up she just gets a almost a cult following of people who come to hear her give speeches and so she puts out the word on Friday afternoon that she's gonna be speaking Monday at the Constitutional Convention and the gallery is packed with women hundreds of these women showed up dressed to their nines and flooded the chambers there wasn't anywhere for them to sit so they went on the upper deck there are several men who say no they don't want her to speak and they're very vocal about it so john knox calls them cause a hand vote a show of hands you have to show do you want her to speak or do you not and all of a sudden only one guy one delegate from Dallas County was the only one who actually would raise his hand to say no he didn't want her to speak and when several of the men whereas later while they gave a voice vote they didn't want her to speak but wouldn't raise their hand they said they were afraid of the women in the audience and so they weren't brave enough to raise their hand to say no so so a little bit of peer pressure worked there I don't know if it was just coincidence or if she planned it but the more I read about it the more I think that she may have planned it a little I wouldn't be I wouldn't be overly surprised as Frances Griffin was concluding her speech she draws the differences between men and women and she explains to the delegates that as men they could not understand the perspectives of women only women could do that and that is why women needed to be able to have a vote to express their perspectives in many ways in 1901 what Francis Griffin was talking about was the diversity of perspective and that makes her a real trailblazer that Francis made in some important points that were well remembered and she was respected for the power with which she delivered those comments I think about the courage that Francis Griffin had for her to be able to stand up in front of these men and stand up with power and authority to speak up for women and their right to vote when I hear the stories I often laugh because they said she had a way with words that she could be very sarcastic but what she said was very powerful the sculpture looks nothing like this drawing nothing at all couldn't sculpt all of this there was just too much to sculpt so I focused more on her speaking because that was the most important part of the event it's fascinating to me that in the artwork she has standing there with her  hand out because she's having to ask men to give women the right to vote even if they put it before a ballot for the voters all the voters are men right so she is literally having to ask basically for a handout to vote and so I love the artist depicted it that way I think if Francis Griffin could see how much progress our state has made in electing women in all seats of government including our highest office as governor she would be so thrilled she would also know that way you shouldn't stop that our state is better when all voices are heard you do bronze casting you're involved in a process called the lost wax method and what that entails is it entails me creating the original and I'm using clay once you've made the original you then make a silicone mold of the original and that silicone malt reflects perfectly your sculpture which you then take to the foundry and they pour a liquid wax in there which hardens it's a process and a lot can go right and a lot can go wrong in that process so that's why an artist relies on utilizing foundries because the amount of equipment you need the skill sets of working metal are very different than working clay but in the end usually you get an exact duplicate of your sculpture in bronze rather than in clay and it can be put outside and last as long as we want it there [Music] [Music] [Music] [Music] during the turn of the century around 1910 it was a huge problem with the boll weevil and it took out a huge portion of the cotton industry and an innovative banker named HM sessions oratio sessions partnered with a farmer at C W bastions farm in the area they made the first attempt at growing the peanuts this image is celebrating again Alabama is stepping out on faith and with courage to try something new and what we see is the day that they walk out in the field together pull up a peanut plant and see all of those peanuts hanging from underneath that peanut plant and they know that this is going to change everything for that part of the state the wire grass is going to become peanut producing region in this country for this farmer to have gone from probably being very worried about the fact that the cotton industry was no longer viable they didn't have a real effective means of combating the bull weevil you know I really wanted to focus on the relief and  the excitement that the farmer felt when he pulled out that huge crop of peanuts and he had a banker standing right next up saying we're gonna make some money and even still today anybody who knows anything about Alabama's Wiregrass associates it with the peanut panel 11 in the Bicentennial project is celebrating the TVA rural electrification act which was in 1936 and we decided to show a rural school filled with filled with a bunch of school kids that are watching the installation of electric poles this moment that we're depicting in this this image here is a moment beyond that despair so we're looking now at kind of the wonder that comes with innovation and perseverance and investment so that there is this newly available resource electrification that is spreading across North Alabama during this time we are seeing a line crew this out in a rural part of North Alabama bringing electricity to a schoolhouse for the first time there's so many of us now you know just take for granted being able to you know go and switch the light switch on and know that power will your lights will turn on and your heat or on and this is really about a time before that  was commonplace in Alabama this is a game-changer in terms of people's everyday lives it brings light into their school houses and and to their homes but it also creates an opportunity for farmers because electricity becomes an important tool it creates the opportunity for industrial growth and it has a long-term impact on northern Alabama the moment we concentrated on was just the kids interacting with the workers and the workers installing these electric lights and they did it with simple trucks and ladders and bales that would roll out the wire it was very very early on TVA which is one of a number of  players in that what we now know without power was very significant in other parts of the state of bringing electricity so they're standing there at the edge of the schoolyard and watching these linemen something they've never seen before in their lives men putting wooden poles up in the 'quran running wires between it and the promise of what's going to happen with the electricity that's delivered by this new system .

Alabama projects so this is panel 12 in the Bicentennial project in 1940s during World War two mobile was a huge shipyard building and producing ships that were used regularly in the war effort and during that time there were about 30,000 laborers working continuously night and day producing these ships and record-breaking speeds the shipbuilding industry transformed mobile in the 1940s coming out of the depression there was no work anywhere during World War two in this area just to our East and the Pinto Island area is where that first shipyard was actually built people flood into mobile during these years and it's an amazing new density of population that comes in as people start taking jobs in the shipyards to produce the fleets of ships that are going to be needed to fight this war it just changed the way that South Alabama lived and worked it really built the middle class after World War two from those wages african-americans  were employed at Asko as were women the tool canyon was built by an all african-american crew and they set the  record for the fastest ship had been built in that shipyard by any crew we actually have a photograph of the launching and what that looks like significant contributions of our Alabamians to that effort despite the  segregation and adversity they were going through working together as a team to really produce something for all Americans the shipyards of Alabama is very relevant because of the way it really changed Society in Alabama from an agrarian culture in the southern part of the state into an industrial age we're going in here to the foundry at the University of Alabama working with Craig wettest moon and Eric Nam and we're finishing the patinas on the onto of the bronzes today and that's when you change the natural surface of the sanded and smooth bronze to a color and it happens very quickly it involves water acids and then sometimes heat and fire so we're a week in one day from the unveiling and I'm telling you I feel it but I'm excited but also you know fingers crossed everybody's holding together and we're behind schedule but we're still before the deadlines I enjoy seeing it transform yet again it gives me that ability that kind of once again experience the kind of joy of making it the first time cuz now I'm adding color and bringing out and defining you know through the art of painting essentially basically highlighting different points here like I can get this just bring this edge out but let yet leave it black like it would have been and then highlight the water around it which highlights in is the ship so I'm drawing your attention to it not only sculpturally but also through the use of value [Music] but we don't have to do it evenly we can cut it .

yeah two and a half years culminating and what Saturday Sunday for me there's three the remaining panels to do after this so the fourth one will be finished then and then it's up just to you guys to install how do you feel about that like it's a long-term yeah it just come down closer to the wire than I even anticipated but it's not on the other side of the line so we're gonna get this all done and finished beautifully days before the unveiling but that just makes it more exciting that's how I look at it and I'm happy with it so that's all I can ask you please with what I put out Alabama today is a site of what we call cultural tourism heritage tourism and one of the most popular sites for people who visit Alabama from around the country in the  world to come see as the Edmund Pettus Bridge and Selma this is panel 13 of the bicentennial celebration project and it's memorializing what we call Bloody Sunday I'll never forget on March 7th 1965 many threats have been made about the possibilities of what will happen to anyone who would participate on the March I was eight years old when they started to line up on the playground of George Washington Carver Holmes I got in the line so that um I could March too cuz that's the part I liked about the movement the action so I hopped in the line we might we came down Broad Street and over the bridge and I saw the policeman lined across all four lanes I knew we were not going to my gum was a peaceful march led by John Lewis and Amelia Boynton Robinson and other civil rights leaders they were crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge when they were confronted by a line of mounted officers and other officers wearing gas masks what had been a peaceful march turned into turned into an assault and I remember as I was trying to run I still could see other people who were among those marches with me they were running crawling bleeding just bleeding from being beaten but I remember most of the screams a neighbor props some of them were probably man people were screaming and screaming people lay down we're laying down on the ground not moving as if they were dead and you couldn't stop to help them it seemed like it lasted an eternity looking through these images was one of the more disturbing points in time that I had to reflect on during this project when you deal with something that unfolds over a period of time visually you can't always capture an image that sums everything up sometimes you can but what I decided was to follow the scene through a flow of time and one of the things that I found the most successful about this civil rights movement was the fact that the people supported one another that when somebody fell they picked them up and so I highlighted Amelia Boynton Robinson who was knocked unconscious being helped by a group of people around her they helped her they picked her up they carried her to safety despite their own risks because the further you fled the further away you were from the police officers and mounted officers and the tear gas but they stayed there to help her and there are very many moving scenes  that day but this is one that I thought was the most moving we really wanted to show the complexity of Alabama and that there there are so many you know positive feel-good stories but there are also chapters of our history that are that are darker and that we need to you know still think about and examine and make sure that history doesn't repeat itself and so this is you know really showing that that iconic event that really led to so much more in the civil rights era but also turned to kind of national spotlight on Alabama and really catalyzed a movement that would end up becoming what we know now is the civil rights movement and I just wanted to show the general chaos of the day with this looming and almost impossible to cross seeming bridge there was a song that we used to always say during the mass meetings and the marches that had taken place before that particular march and that song reflected the words of Oh freedom Oh freedom over me over me and before I feel slave I'll be buried in my grave and go home to my lord and be free the pitcher a Bloody Sunday has never left my heart neither my mind a day at a time in which I would never ever forget and we can't dwell on the past but we need the path you need to pass the show where we've been so you won't make those mistakes of me and it wasn't till later that they were able to fully cross from one side to the other beginning the correction of a civil injustice 3 2 1 ignition .

 so the Saturn five was the vehicle that they ended up as a design that was necessary to take men to the moon and I was the project manager for the booster engines which were called f1 engines during this whole period of time of getting ready to go to the moon and what we had to do was just a fantastic time for us it was tough on many of our families because we had to spend so much of our time out here and it was just so dedicated to making that happen but it  also caused us to learn how to work together from people all over this country and all over the world to bring these people all together in Huntsville areas and Huntsville suddenly wasn't a typical southern town anymore so this is panel 14 of the Bicentennial project and what we're seeing here is the testing of the Saturn 5 rocket on April 7th of 1965 in Huntsville Alabama the engineering teams were there at the Marshall Space Center and it was literally the engine that propelled us to the moon so you have the history of Alabama unfolding before you from the bacillus aureus of the Mosasaurus and the shallow oceans and now we're moving all the way to the highest point that we could see in the night sky that isn't a star our own lovely moon the Saturn 5 was a very powerful launch vehicle the most powerful launch vehicle that humans have ever developed it was capable of generating in the first stage 7.5 million pounds of thrust was 363 feet tall it's a just a huge huge accomplishments so in a nutshell it was a satisfying rocket then was which was the cause of all of these people coming from all over the world to work on this and work on this object of getting to the moon and subjective getting to the moon we've men and landing them safely on the surface and bringing them home and that that whole core happened right here in Huntsville Alabama there was some people from all over that made it happen and to think that all of that was done in Huntsville Alabama is incredible to think that through all of this state's history we are able to achieve something that would not only give us a new vantage point but bring together the entire world and fascination in mutual fascination [Music] [Music] so each of the 16 body months has a sculpture on top that Caleb O'Connor designed and and then under that will be two different text panels so the text panels that are just starting to be unwrapped here these give a little bit of context about what the image is depicting as well as a caption so folks can really enjoy the artwork itself but also get a little more context of what the image is depicting .

 so panel 15 of the Bicentennial project is highlighting the innovative technologies and companies that started to move into Alabama in the late 80s and one of the pinnacles of that was Mercedes which produces over 1/4 of its vehicles in the state of Alabama now what fascinates me is not only to as Mercedes moved here but many other high technology and manufacturing companies have moved to the state of Alabama and what seems to be a very permanent basis decided to focus on the robotic arms because it's not only that these companies have come to the state of Alabama it's that the people of Alabama are now working with high technology with robotic arms like we're seeing here and with computer programs and manufacturing it's the new wave of the future that Alabama despite being one of the states that has the most water that has beautiful land and abundant nature also has intellectual capital also has the capacity of producing vehicles that are at the pinnacle of vehicles and that the people of Alabama are learning and being educated to use these new tools of creation so that Alabama will always be at the top of innovation no matter at what point in the world that we're at throughout its history Alabama has been a place of innovation and change so when when people came here 200 years ago it was to take advantage of a new piece of technology in the cotton gin that's gonna happen again when when we develop industry heavy industry and Birmingham and other parts of Alabama it'll happen again in the 20th century when we learned to fly and to to propel man into space using technology built in Alabama and then technology again is going to change the way we live and work in the late 20th century and early 21st century when automobile manufacturing comes to Alabama Alabama has really become known for auto manufacturing that really rely on that technology but also the people I mean there have to be you can't have a factories just full of robots without anybody there you have to have people programming them people technicians working on them repairing them when they're broken and all that goes along with that so so these you know robotics are part of our 21st century workforce along with our talented Alabama  got one event down this morning and some more great ones to go the rest of the day it is so exciting I think all of us who've been working on this for a long time or just kind of floating on a cloud really enjoying the day great to see so many people here had great turnout for the parade and the park dedication is just really going to allow people today is the culmination of a three-year Bicentennial commemoration we have people all over downtown we just ended the Bicentennial parade next up is the Bicentennial Park dedication which Governor   they will lead we are so excited to have this piece of the Bicentennial it's our legacy project and will be here for generations to come and to have that unveiled for the first time today no one has seen it they have been under wraps and so we were really fortunate to have five for a wire a company out of custom-made the drapes for the for the monuments so nobody has leaned up except the makers and the people who have installed them so it's really a very special day we had a little moment there where we were worried about the panel's actually making it some were caught in a snowstorm there was some issues with where the holes have been drilled to mount them but always overcome and they are installed and beautiful just in the nick of time so we we got there we sweated it a little bit but we got there I think that there's some really special things about the part that it's unlike anything I've ever seen before the artistry that Kaelin brought to these panels into the renderings they are so alive fact that it's in brawn  it's going to be here for a long time to come for people to enjoy and to experience and it will provoke them to think and maybe reflect on our history but we hope at the end the park inspires people about the future and I think Calif through his work and through the stories that these bronzes tell it really won't do that we have been working on the Commission started in 2013 so we're in our sixth year of working on planning what the Bicentennial was going to be the last three years have been celebrations all over the state since March 3rd 2017  and to see it come to an end that I think we want to say that it's coming to a beginning it's been the great privilege of my life and I think that's true of everybody who's been involved with the Commission and especially this part of project to say that there's something we did for the Bicentennial but it will outlast all of us and I think have an impact for many years to come so it's kind of a bittersweet moment to see it come to an end but we're thinking about the next step in the next hundred years and so it's really a beginning 

as you can imagine there was a lot of conversation around what the last panel should be for Bicentennial Park we threw around a lot of different ideas and a lot of concepts and a lot of them would have would have been great but we really wanted to to end with something that was aspirational and something that you know encouraged us to think about the next 200 years anytime you're developing a historical project the hardest part is the ending because the closer you get to the present the more difficult it is to draw conclusions about what it is that we're seeing because we're seeing it in real time and we don't yet have the perspective to know what's the long-term significance of this period of our history really Caleb we had the vision here and convinced us the thing for us to do is to step back take a broader view and to think about things that are happening today they're going to continue to shape our future and to do something in a way that speaks to opportunity and the promise of what the future is going to bring down Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville has served as science central and the command post for all the science investigations on Space Station since 2001 it truly is an international endeavor being managed and controlled right here in Alabama and so I think it's fitting that we look to the future look at where Alabama has contributed and look at where we can go even further with this state it's the highest vantage point that humans have reached scientifically and it's also literally given us the highest vantage point of Earth other than satellites and and some of the other like the Voyager that we sent much deeper out into space but this is continuous it's looping but the main reason that I did it is in context to the history of Alabama which has been like I said filled with good moments and very bad moments and a lot of those bad moments have been on just a simple fact of human beings getting along it's called the International Space Station and it's called that because it's a place where scientists and astronauts from all over the world get together to study this earth that we all live on and it gives us a unique perspective of the earth that shows us that we are all living on this sphere that's floating in this sea of black surrounded by these gorgeous stars and you know I think that when you see the Earth from that perspective it changes you irrevocably you can no longer say that I am only from here you see that you're from this globe and that it might be one point on it but it's just one point and you're connected to the rest of it we all came from there everything in our history every story every myth has come from this one pale blue dot and I want to give Alabama that moment where they see what a wonderful thing they did what a wonderful thing we've built here and we've allowed for the rest of the world to come together and explore this earth and our place in the universe .

and it's just a stepping stone to much greater things much greater things so it's also a promise of the future when you look at the composition you'll notice dead-center in the panel you see Alabama and what a more fitting way for the young minds that are gonna be routinely showed these panels to see that's your home these images present stories of different places in time it's such a brief time in the history of the world and yet during these many years that parallel the life of our great state Alabamians have been at the forefront of so many pivotal events that have shaped not only America but also the world but each region of the state is represented so that all who visit will see something that tells of his or her own [Music] you know it's an artist I think one of the most apprehensive moments is right when you're going to reveal the work just to see how people are going to react because we tend to be passionate about more work I certainly am and so to see the people enjoying it to see the people some crying is becoming emotional I feel like that's part of the richness of the story of Alabama is that it is the light and the dark mixed together and you know my grandmother just passed on two nights ago and it's kind of ironic that it's culminating right now that this unveiling is happening and I realize too that there's there's a message there that no matter what our accomplishments are we always have to keep in mind that time is flowing at a one-way street and those moments are gone as soon as they pass and that's why it's important to make the best of those moments and as an artist I've just I feel blessed to have been able to make something that's going to be here for us for time for a moment in time to say that you know I was here the things that I thought things that I saw the stories that I was trying to communicate of this great state of Alabama are gonna be here for people to see for hopefully another 200 years if not longer 

 I'm looking at this exhibit from an african-american perspective and what I really appreciate that the artist did was to weave the african-american history into each of the panels so in the Civil War he talked about being slave what did slave people did back at home we talked about slaves been leased to the government so in each of them each of this it's not like there's just one pound at slavery and one pound of civil rights you actually get this this holistic picture of African Americans and their and their plight in Alabama so I think artistically I think he did a great job of doing that it's great it's beautifully done the artist did a great job too it's hard to believe that's done in a metal I mean so it's so living that's just incredible it really takes you into that period that's really powerful it is appropriate that the part that we dedicate sits on our Capitol as a new chapter in the history in an ancient place the park tells stories about Alabama history both the well-known monuments engraved on our hearts and in our textbooks and the equally of momentous but quieter times but never less marked turning points in our history and often in the history of our nation and the world  you

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