Journey to Alexander City

Main Street in Alexander City is exactly what you would expect a town’s Main Street to be: charming, welcoming. A small street lined with shops and government buildings and a real soda fountain at Carlisle Drug.

It is here, in this storied town’s center, where the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit “Journey Stories” is housed in the United Way building at 19 Main Street. Walking in the door this Wednesday, I was happy to see a group of students from William L. Radney Elementary School, a sixth-grade class, listening intently to Terry Jones, a volunteer with the Main Street organization, tell the story of our country, how our ancestors traveled here and how they journeyed west across the continent, looking for a better life.

“Journey Stories” is a Museum on Main Street exhibition, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the Alabama Humanities Foundation. The exhibit examines the intersection between modes of travel and Americans’ desire to feel free to move. The stories are diverse and focus on immigration, migration, innovation and freedom. “Journey Stories” uses engaging images with audio and artifacts to tell the individual stories that illustrate the critical roles travel and movement have played in building our diverse American society.

Right now, “Journey Stories” can be seen in Alexander City through Sept. 23. It will then move on to:

Marion — Sept. 28-Nov. 10
Mobile — Nov. 16-Dec. 27
Eufaula — Jan. 6, 2012-Feb. 15
Arab — Feb. 24-April 5

Watching the children view the exhibit panels, and seeing them explore Alexander City’s own complementary exhibit across the street in the lobby of City Hall, you can see their minds whirling. They are making connections between the settlers and their own ancestors. They are understanding why people come to America to seek out a better life. Perhaps they are contemplating their own “Journey Stories”—trips taken with parents and grandparents to Mt. Rushmore, Civil War battlegrounds, or Yellowstone National Park.

We all have a journey story to tell. Come see America’s “Journey Stories” in Alexander City or an Alabama town near you! And, if you would like to tell your own journey story here on AHF’s blog, please email it to: jdome@ahf.net.

We look forward to taking the journey with you!