Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Meeting a part of Atlanta history

The segregation and civil rights movements are such comparatively recent history that of course it is the case that some of the older people that we pass in the streets would have lived through those times.  We heard a woman in Alabama (we'll get there in a posting soon) say that she was a child during the bus protests, for example.  But usually you don't get to know what people have seen or done, as you just don't speak to them.

But in Atlanta we did meet someone who was a part of a significant development in racial integration.

Fire Station 6, which is just down the road from the King's old home, was opened on 31 May 1894, and stayed operational until 1991.  It was later redeveloped into a museum which has a few old artifacts including a 1927 American LaFrance Metropolitan Pumper Hose Car fire engine.

The link to Martin Luther King is nothing more than proximity, but the station does have its own little bit of civil rights history, as in 1963 this was the first Atlanta fire station to integrate black firefighters into what was previously an all white station.

The sixteen black men did not always have an easy time of it, but the station chief was behind the desgregation and ensured that any issues were dealt with .  How do I know that?  Because one of those original sixteen integrated firefighters was there at the station when we visited.

Bill Callier had been a firefighter at station 16, an all black fire station, but had volunteered to make the move to station 6.  He transferred on 21 November 1963, the day before the Kennedy assassination.  He talked briefly to us about his experience, which he described as generally very positive because of the commitment of his bosses to the integration scheme, and their willingness to act when problems arose.

It was fascinating to meet Bill and hear about such a key time in the Atlanta fire department.  He later left the fire department and moved on to the MARTA transportation system and managed the provision of transport for the Atlanta Olympics, but now that heis retired, he is back at Fire Station 6 as a volunteer guide.

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