Tourism Tuesdays Sept. 17, 2019

How to survive Alabama’s Gulf Coast with the kids

First ever Brand USA Travel Week Europe showcase held

Gulf State Park Lodge is a leader in environmentally friendly design

Kayakers paddle through region on 650-mile race across Alabama

Alabama, a vacation destination

Biden attends Sixteenth Street Baptist Church memorial service

National Park Service announces grants for Alabama

Princess Radziwill to attend “Truman Talks Nelle Harper Lee” in Monroeville

Alabama Tourism Department’s 2019 Fall tourism workshop

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


How to survive Alabama’s Gulf Coast with the kids
From the article by Christopher Elliott on

On a frenetic holiday weekend, I drove to Alabama’s Gulf Coast with the kids. Maybe I should have known better.

Shortly after taking the exit off I-10, the traffic on Highway 59 turned stop-and-go. More “stop” than “go,” actually. Our car lurched ahead intermittently, passing T-shirt shops and fast-food restaurants. And I started to wonder if I’d made a mistake coming here during the busiest time of the year.

I shouldn’t have worried. Not only did I survive Alabama’s Gulf Coast with my kids (otherwise, I would not be writing this story), but we actually liked it. As it turns out, there’s a lot to do for the entire family, even when the place is packed with visitors.

Wait, Alabama has a coast?
You might not even know that Alabama has a coast. It does. Alabama’s shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico stretches only 60 miles. Gulf Shores, the largest seaside city, is a tourist town with condo towers, beach houses and shops.

There are 32 miles of white sand beaches composed of quartz grains washed down from the Appalachian Mountains. If you visit Alabama’s Gulf Coast with kids, you’ll discover the beaches are just the beginning of the adventure.

What to do on Alabama’s Gulf Coast with the kids

There’s plenty to do:
Go biking in Gulf State Park, which has miles of trails and other recreational opportunities for the family.

Check out other recreational opportunities, like sightseeing flights or nearby cultural attractions, such as the U.S.S. Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in nearby Mobile.

And visit the beach. It’s the main attraction, of course.

Discovering Gulf State Park
Alabama’s Gulf Coast isn’t all condos and restaurants. In the heart of this destination, there’s a 6,500-acre state park, Gulf Coast State Park has 28 miles of bike trails leading through undeveloped wetlands teeming with wildlife. We picked up bikes at Gulf State Park Bike Rentals and headed into the park the next morning to discover this oasis.

Well, at least I thought of it as an oasis. My 12-year-old daughter did not, because it was hot and she was also afraid of alligators. My 17-year-old was a lot happier to be getting out for a ride. Our hotel, the nearby lodge at Gulf State park, was bustling with activity, and he doesn’t like crowds.

The park was the perfect antidote. Even on a busy day, the bike trails weren’t crowded. We pedaled along Rosemary Dunes, then rode along an old access road to the campground. Finally, we biked up a small incline to an overlook on Gulf Oak Ridge, which afforded a view of the entire park and beyond it, the Gulf of Mexico.

My daughter has good instincts. There are alligators in the park but as long as you’re on a bike, they won’t bother you.

If you need to get away from the craziness of the beach, Gulf State Park is a good place to start.

Hop onboard a real submarine
If you’re in town for a few days, head over to the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, an attraction featuring a World War II-era battleship, a submarine and warplanes. We happened to show up during a reenactment called Living History Crew Drill (the next one is planned for Oct. 12). Planes were buzzing the battleship, there were loud explosions on deck, and visitors seemed a little confused by the whole thing.

The drill teaches visitors about life on a naval vessel during the war. At 1 p.m., there’s a call to battle stations as vintage airplanes dive bomb the ship. We watched the men, dressed in vintage uniforms, defend the “Lucky A” with antiaircraft weapons. I asked the kids what they thought and they just shook their heads, a little stunned.

Almost every self-respecting American city has a military museum of some kind, but the USS Alabama takes it to the next level. Almost no part of the retired South Dakota class battleship was off-limits to my young explorers, so we got lost a few times.

Interestingly, the tourists from nearby Gulf Coast don’t really flock to the USS Alabama while they’re on vacation. Instead, you’re more likely to find school groups or tour buses full of special-interest visitors. That means it’s not that crowded on a busy holiday weekend.

So, besides the state park, the USS Alabama is at the top of my “recommended” list. Why? It’s not the beach.

So what’s up with the beach?
I’m not going to sugarcoat this part of the Gulf Coast. The beach gets crowded during peak season — and with good reason. You have to see Alabama’s Gulf Coast to believe it. The sand, like fine sugar, and the emerald water defy any description, and the photos don’t do them justice. But you can avoid all the people with a few simple tricks.

Get there early (or late). How early? If you arrive around 7 a.m. and stay until 9 a.m. you’ll avoid the throngs of beachgoers. As a bonus, you’ll also avoid the worst of the heat during the summer. If you’re not an early riser, try heading over to the beach around dusk.

Find a less crowded beach. From our hotel, everyone seemed to make a right and head to the more populated beach. But if you made a left, you were in the state park, with almost no development and fewer visitors. So get creative and you won’t have to share the beach with everyone else.

Get high. We headed over to the airport on an earlier visit and took a flightseeing tour of the coast in what can best be described as a motorized hang glider. Since then, the tour operator, Beach Flight Aviation, has replaced its fleet with gyroplanes, which look like helicopters. It offers a two-mile excursion over the beaches along Gulf Coast. The cool thing about the Gyroplanes is that during the flight, you get a chance to steer the aircraft.

You don’t have to survive Alabama’s Gulf Coast with the kids
Making it through a busy holiday weekend with your kids on Alabama’s Gulf Coast may sound like a challenge, but it isn’t. If you avoid the peak times and head to the right attractions you can leave the crowds behind.

I think part of the charm of Alabama’s Gulf Coast is that it’s not as well-known as Florida’s beach resorts. I write this with trepidation because I don’t want too many people to visit. Then again, if they do, they’ll know where to go.

For the complete article please see


First ever Brand USA Travel Week Europe showcase held
The first ever Brand USA Travel Week Europe was held last week. This trade show between USA destinations and tour operators in Europe took place Sept. 9-12 at County Hall in London. Among the USA destinations at the show were the Alabama Tourism Department, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism Association, Alabama Civil Rights Association, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development.

The Alabama Tourism Department was well represented. Eight delegates representing all facets of tourism in Alabama were on hand to take appointments with tour operators, OTAs and receptive operators from around the world. They held more than 60 appointments and attended six educational sessions.

A keynote speaker at the show was former astronaut John Herrington, who discussed his role in Brand USA’s third film for IMAX, “Into America’s Wild.” Herrington was a member of the sixteenth Shuttle mission to visit the International Space Station in 2002. He was the first Native American to walk in space.  Herrington spoke and took questions about his space trip prior to the appointment sessions between destinations and tour companies, which was a great lead-in to the discussions Alabama Tourism Department held with tour operators on the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Space Camp in Huntsville.

Other topics covered by Alabama Tourism during the appointment sessions were the U.S. Civil Rights Trail and Alabama’s part in that trail, Alabama’s music and food destinations, the French heritage and history of South Alabama and Alabama’s beaches, including Gulf State Park with National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World Eagle Cottages and Ambassadors of the Environment program.

Graham Roderick, ATD International Sales Manager said, “Music and civil rights go hand in hand. Brand USA traced the history of Americana music back to the time of slavery. Obviously, the music evolved into what we know it today. You can trace a lot of that history back to Alabama.”

Alabama will be hosting the World Games in 2021. Talladega and Barber racing are some of the sporting highlights that draw international audiences.

Alabama had an estimated 9.5% growth in overseas arrivals in 2018, which was the highest state growth rate in the entire United States. Europe is a key market for Alabama tourism.

Brand USA kicked off its inaugural Travel Week Europe event by announcing it will run for at least six more years. The UK, Germany, France, and the Netherlands are the countries chosen to host the new initiative between 2020 and 2025.

Next year’s event will again take place in London and the UK will also host the 2022 and 2024 Travel Weeks. Germany will host Travel Week Europe in 2021, France will host in 2023 and the Netherlands in 2025.

Brand USA is the highly successful public-private partnership formed under the bipartisan Travel Promotion Act of 2009, charged with promoting the U.S. as a tourist destination.

For more information on contact

Gulf State Park Lodge is a leader in environmentally friendly design
From the article by Michelle Matthews on

The guests at The Lodge at Gulf State Park look like any other beachgoers in coastal Alabama, as they walk through the stylishly decorated lobby in cover-ups and flip-flops with toddlers and beach toys in tow. But when architect Rebecca Bryant sees these guests, she sees much more.

“These are travelers of the future,” she says.

The property they’ve chosen is unique on the Gulf Coast in the way it conserves the natural beauty of the place.

“The people who visit the park come here because they want to have great experiences in nature. And the money they contribute to the park helps us to continue to fund the restoration and preservation of those ecosystems. It’s a great economic model that helps to improve the quality of life, not just for the visitors, but for all of us who live here,” says Bryant.

The guests at this Hilton-branded, beachfront lodge in Gulf Shores don’t sacrifice any luxury to make a minimal impact on the environment during their stay. Their state-of-the-art rooms have air-conditioning systems that cut off if the balcony door is open for more than two minutes. In their showers, they have large, refillable bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash instead of the usual travel-sized ones that create plastic waste. All of the trash cans on the property collect refuse as well as recyclables. And those are just a couple of examples of the ways the lodge is leading the way in sustainability.

“Many people don’t realize that the Gulf Coast is an incredibly rich ecological area,” says Bryant, the founding principal of WATERSHED, a sustainable design and consulting firm based in Fairhope. “We live in one of 36 parts of the planet recognized as ‘biodiversity hot spots,’ meaning they are earth’s most biologically diverse yet threatened places. That’s pretty amazing.”

The new lodge replaces the original Gulf State Park Lodge, which opened in 1974, with 144 rooms in 12 two-story buildings – plus another building with a lobby, restaurant and meeting space. It sprawled across 42 acres situated right on the sand dunes near the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Ivan’s storm surge destroyed the buildings in 2004, and for 14 years the property stood vacant.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 provided the impetus and funds for rebuilding the lodge, this time on a smaller footprint and with the intent of protecting the natural environment around it.

The new lodge, which opened Nov. 1, 2018, has twice as many guest rooms on a fraction of the space – 350 rooms on 16 acres – and the buildings are situated farther back from the Gulf to protect the dunes. “Instead of sod and crepe myrtles around a hotel, the lodge is surrounded by dynamic coastal dunes, and can even participate in their restoration,” says Bryant. “The more we restore the dunes, we not only provide a home for the beach mice and nesting sea turtles, and migrating birds, but we make our home stronger and more resilient.”

Bryant’s firm served as Gulf Coast sustainability specialist for the master plan and for the design teams working on the lodge, the interpretive center and the learning campus. Several years ago, when she saw the vision statement for the project – the goal was “to create an international benchmark in environmental and economic sustainability demonstrating best practices in hospitable operations” – she was excited to get involved.

“I think it’s really cool that when we mapped the people who participated in the master plan and responded to the online surveys, the distribution is really similar to the distribution and flyways of other animals that migrate through Gulf State Park, whether they are birds or monarch butterflies,” she says.

All the new projects at the state park are seeking green site certifications, which should be awarded in November. The lodge is going for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold and SITES Platinum and will be the first SITES hotel to be certified in the world. The new interpretive center, at the western entrance to the park next to the public beach pavilion, is pursuing Living Building Challenge certification, meaning it creates more water and energy than it uses.

“After the oil spill disaster, our region had a hard reckoning with the reality that the economy and environment are mutually dependent,” says Bryant. “People’s lives were deeply affected by the economic devastation of the oil spill, resulting from the environmental devastation. People protect what they love, and these projects will help more people fall in love with Alabama’s Gulf Coast.”

‘Really amazing things’
In March of 2018, Chandra Wright, a former lawyer and self-described “tree-hugger and sea turtle volunteer,” was hired as director of environmental and educational initiatives at Gulf State Park. She had become involved with the lodge project when she was invited to participate in a stakeholder focus group as the master plan for the park was being developed.

Her concern was that the new lodge, interpretive center and learning center needed to be done in the best, most sustainable way possible. “My bosses call me the conscience of the project,” she says. “We’re really a pioneer for the state of Alabama. It’s a quiet little spot on the beach, but we’re really doing amazing things.”

Now that the lodge has been up and running for nearly a year, Wright is still giddy with excitement about the way it turned out. This is her first job in the hotel industry, but she’s not one of those people who see their positions as a stepping stone to the next.

“I say this is my first and last hotel job,” she says. “This is my home, and this is my personal passion project. It’s a legacy project for the whole state.”

The lodge is designed so that guests will park their cars in the tucked-away parking lot and leave them there. Two pedestrian bridges (for walkers and bike-riders) at each end of the property connect the beach side and the park side, where there is a learning campus, a much-loved campground as well as 20 cabins and 11 Eagle Cottages on Lake Shelby, which have been accepted into National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World program.

The design of all the buildings that comprise the lodge features louvers and screening to create shade and block wind, as well as beach architecture such as porches. The color palette is “pulled from the environment,” says Bryant. “It’s important that the style be ‘salty’ and have a rustic, beachy feel.”

The impressive, spacious lobby welcomes guests with a wall of windows overlooking the beach beyond. The glass in the windows is specially designed so birds won’t fly into them. With hardwood floors, exposed beams overhead and lots of seating arrangements of different types, the lobby opens onto the “back porch,” which is lined with rocking chairs and gliders with a beautiful view of the water.

Wright says she likes to think about guests who drive to Gulf Shores from faraway places like Michigan or Minnesota and walk into the lobby, having a cocktail and relaxing on the porch. “It’s so different from other properties on the beach,” she says. She recalls that, on the 4th of July, when the lodge was sold out and 1,000 people were out on the beach, she went to one of the top floors and looked out. She was surprised to see that it didn’t look overly crowded at all.

“It was our busiest day of the year, and our guests were still having an exclusive experience,” she says.

Furnishings and artwork in the lobby have been created by Alabama craftspeople and artists. One wall showcases “Loggerhead” by April Hopkins and Zach DePolo of Mobile. Made of fiberglass and sand, the piece was inspired by the idea of newly hatched turtles making their way to the water. The conference table is from Alabama Sawyer of Birmingham, which turns trees that are being removed by utility companies into furniture. The rocking chairs and gliders on the porch are made by Wood Studio in Fort Payne.

To one side of the lobby, a walkway leads to the three five-story buildings that house the guest rooms. Half of the rooms overlook the beach, and the others overlook Lake Shelby across Alabama Highway 182 Because the parking lot is located at a slight distance from the lodge, no one has a view of a parking lot. Where each building is connected to the next, common balconies provide a space for those facing the backside of the property to look out over the Gulf. Each floor has a theme that relates to something to do at the park.

On the other side of the lobby are the lodge’s restaurants as well as a convention center that includes a ballroom with a beach view and conference space. Easy-to-read signs throughout the property tout the lodge’s environmental initiatives in a subtle, educational way.

Located close to the meeting center, the parking lot has a permeable surface to let water seep through. Water is collected from the air-conditioning condensation generated by each room, filtered and used to top off the pool, saving 14,000 gallons of water per month. Rainwater flows from the oversized gutters down rain chains to be collected and diverted to wetland areas.

A sign at the interpretive center, which is intended to be the gateway to the park, reads: “The beach is only the beginning.” Obviously, the beautiful white beach has enormous appeal. But there’s so much else to explore, including nine ecosystems. The two pedestrian bridges are a great way to bring guests to the park side of the property. Recently, the park acquired 50 smart bikes, with 150 more to come, that can be rented through an app so anyone can explore the park’s trails.

For Bryant, the project is especially meaningful “because it provides a model where buildings and development participate in restoring the environment,” she says.

“As so many people continue to move to the Gulf Coast, and development pressure intensifies, we need a strong vision of a future where a healthy, resilient environment supports a high quality of life and a healthy, resilient economy. Beyond these buildings, the dune restoration, bike lanes, bike share program, pedestrian overpasses, bird observatories and overlooks, 28 miles of trails in the park, and all of the new environmental education camps, adventures and programming – all of these things are so exciting. They paint a picture of the future I want to live in, a future my kids are excited to see.”

For the complete article please see

Kayakers paddle through region on 650-mile race across Alabama
From the article by David Atchison on

Some Logan Martin Lake residents got a glimpse Sunday of elite kayak racers paddling down the river on their 650-mile journey that will end at Fort Morgan in the Gulf of Mexico.

“It is an extremely tough race,” said Fred Couch of Anniston, who is the founder of the Alabama Scenic River Trail organization, which organized the Great Alabama 650.

The ultra-distance race, one of the longest in the lower 49, is a 650-mile race that starts in north Alabama and finishes near Gulf Shores.

Couch said the race tests paddlers’ fitness, strength, endurance, as well as their mental toughness to finish the distance within the 10-day challenge.

Logan Martin Lake appeared to be a turning point in the adventure race, with half of the field of competitors dropping out of the journey under blistering hot conditions.

Greg Wingo of Birmingham is the race director and Laurie Sanders of South Carolina is the volunteer coordinator.

“They are doing a great job,” Couch said, adding that organizers had hoped there would be no more than 18 entries for the first Great Alabama 650 race.

“Personally, I thought there would be more racers, 30 or so,” he said.

Couch said he thinks other competitors are looking at how this first race goes.

“I think many of them want to see how well we carry this off, and want to see what racers who enter it have to say about it,” he said.

The Great Alabama 650 offers one of the highest purses for a distance paddling race. The winning solo-woman, solo-man and tandem team will each receive $7,500.

Couch said many of the paddlers came to the race with high expectations, but half of the field left the race while paddling Logan Martin Lake for various reasons.

The weather has been exceptionally hot in recent days, and the blistering temperatures are expected to continue through the week.

“The heat just zaps the hell out of you,” said racer Joe Zellener, 63, of Grand Marais, Minn., who ended up dropping out of the contest because of shoulder problems.

Zellener’s girlfriend, Peggy Gabriel, 55, of Wisconsin, was going to paddle tandem with her boyfriend, but the two could not find a support person. She was acting as the support for Zellener.

“I’m getting too old for this,” said Zellenger, who is not new to distance paddling races.

Zellenger said he was a carpenter by trade, so he is used to working in a hot environment, probably moreso than other racers.

He said the Logan Martin Lake section was tough to paddle.

“We really slowed down on this section,” he said. “There was absolutely no current.”

Zellenger had followed race leader, ultra-distance paddler Salli O’Donnell, closely until he pulled out of the competition at Logan Martin Lake Dam.

O’Donnell, who is from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., continues to hold the lead, with Bobby Johnson of Dunedin, Fla., about 15 miles behind her. The two paddlers made their way to Wetumpka, below a whitewater section of the river, on Monday, after paddling across Weiss, Neely Henry, Logan Martin, Lay, Mitchell and Jordan Lakes to the Alabama River.

Racers have been paddling day and night, with little or no sleep since the race started Saturday morning.

Couch said racers were fortunate there was a full moon this week, making paddling at night much easier and a lot cooler.

Susan Jordan, of Mississippi, and Ryan Gillikin, of Bay Minette, Alabama, are leading the way in the tandem category. They are followed by tandem teammates, brothers Drake White of Rochester Minn., and Mark White of Macomb, Ill.

There is one paddleboard entry, Scott Baste of Florida, who is still in the race, but who is in last place among the six remaining paddlers.

Couch said he estimates that the first racer could cross the finish line by Friday, if there are no mishaps or storms to slow travel.

For the complete article please see–mile-race-across-alabama/article_61566982-d8ed-11e9-b721-afcfb2dc899e.html

Alabama, a vacation destination
From the article by Michelle Logan on

From the mountainous terrain of DeKalb County to the white-sand beaches of the Southern coast, Alabama’s landscapes are quite diverse.

DeKalb Tourism president and CEO John Dersham said he hears misconceptions about that state far too often.

“‘I thought you were just one level field, one level cotton field, north to south,” Dersham said.

So he embarked on a mission to expose the truth about Alabama’s biodiversity. As a professional photographer, Dersham traveled to all 67 counties in Alabama to take pictures of the most beautiful landscapes.

“All the way from the mountains of North Alabama to the extensive, world-class river systems all throughout Alabama, to the Blackbelt, to the Wiregrass, the coastal plains and the Gulf Coast,” he said.

Dersham complied his photographs across the state in a book titled “My Alabama.”

On Alabama’s southern coast, the terrain looks much different. Viva Price was on vacation with her family in Gulf Shores this summer.

“It’s accessible,” said Price. “Not really overly-expensive and you still get the nice white beach and beautiful sun that you would get on the island.”

Alabama’s beaches are becoming increasingly popular destinations.

Kay Maghan is public relations manager for Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism.

“What we’ve seen for the past eight years, is every year is bigger and better than the one before,” Maghan said. “So it’s been record-setting for eight years in a row.”

In the Birmingham metro area, developments such as Ross Bridge have coincided with city growth. There have been more than 13 million rounds of golf played at the luxurious part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, according to Sunbelt Golf Corporation President John Cannon.

“We came into Hoover here and developed the Golf course,” said Cannon. “And everything else then developed around it.”

The diversity of landscapes and amenities in Alabama make the state a perfect photo subject for Dersham’s “My Alabama.”

For the complete article please see

Biden attends Sixteenth Street Baptist Church memorial service
From the article by Ivana Hrynkiw on

Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden spoke Sunday morning at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham on the anniversary of the 1963 bombing that killed four young girls, talking about how America must come together in defining moments of history.

The church also celebrated its newly updated Memorial Nook Sunday, which has for decades displayed mementos of the bombing in the basement where the blast happened. The area included the clock that stopped at 10:22 a.m. on Sept. 15, 1963, the moment of the bombing that killed 14-year-old Addie Mae Collins, 11-year-old Denise McNair, 14-year-old Carole Rosamond Robertson and 14-year-old Cynthia Wesley.

“This is not a symbolic loss,” Biden said. “…that transfixed the world and inspired a whole nation. It’s personal. And even 56 years later, it’s tragic.” He said, “that blast took aim at the very foundations of this community in 1963.”

Biden attended the 56th anniversary memorial service Sunday school to commemorate the bombing and spoke before the bells tolled, marking the moment when the bomb went off more than five decades ago.

Sunday school was taught by U.S. Air Force Chaplain Lt. Col. Ruth N. Segres, and Biden spoke following Segres. The church bells rang at 10:22 a.m., as members of the four little girls’ families stood.

Following the bells toll, Biden participated in a wreath laying service outside the church, at the wall where the blast happened. He was joined by Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and U.S. Sen. Doug Jones.

The service began at 11 a.m., preached by South Carolina Rev. Eric S.C. Manning, pastor of The Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Mother Emanuel AME was the site of a June 2015 shooting by white supremacist Dylann Roof, who killed nine members of the church during Bible study. Roof was sentenced to death by a federal jury in 2017.

“It’s an honor to be here,” Biden said when he took the podium earlier in the morning. “The love in this church is kind of overwhelming.” He also shook the hand of the young girl who sang before his remarks, and called her “magnificent.”

Biden said in his speech, before the bells tolled marking the moment the fatal bomb went off 56 years ago, “I am sure, in those first hours after the bomb exploded— it was hard to see through the smoke and rubble to a day like today,” he said.

“As Dr. King eulogized those girls- perhaps not even he could have imagined the day nearly 50 years later- when this nation’s first black president would award them the Congressional Gold Medal—one of our highest civilian honors. It is only with persistent effort… It is only with fortitude in our actions… It is only with faith in ourselves and the future that may yet be… That change comes— sometimes slowly, sometimes all at once— and progress continues,” Biden said.

He talked about the 1963 bombing and compared it to other acts of violence in America like Charlottesville, Charleston, and El Paso. ″Hate is on the rise again, we’re at a defining moment again in American history,” Biden said. “Who are we? What do we want to be? After Charlottesville, I said that I believed we’re at a battle for the soul of America. I say it again today, we’re at the battle for the soul of America.”

“When our nation must again decide who we are, what we stand for…. We remember the moment when time stopped and then remember everything that came after. And we choose once more to fight for a shared American dream.”

Biden also talked about the Charleston shooting at Mother Emanuel AME, ahead of Manning’s sermon, saying the 1963 bombing “pulled the trigger” on events like the shooting at Mother Emanuel. Biden remembered visiting the church when the nine church members were gunned down in June 2015. “I was astounded by the amazing grace of those parishioners, the families of the victims, how quickly… (they were to) forgive the killer. I was dumbfounded,” Biden said.

“Hate only hides, it doesn’t go away,” Biden said. “We have not relegated racism and white supremacy to the pages of history. But the greatness of this nation has always been and must continue to be that we still strive… When what’s at stake matter the most, when we decide who we are and, maybe more importantly, who we want to be.”

The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church’s newly renovated memorial area ribbon cutting was set to happen after the service. The basement will still have the iconic clock, but the room where it had been displayed was converted into a movie-viewing room for the documentary “10:22,” about the bombing and the eulogy for the girls given by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Another video board in the basement will display messages for visitors and play videos of oral histories, and the walls will be adorned with historical exhibits.

For the complete article please see

National Park Service announces grants for Alabama
The National Park Service announced Friday that Alabama received 12 grants from the second round of African American Civil Right Grants Program. The grants are designed to help preserve and showcase stories of the African American struggle for equality in the 20th century.

Congress created the grants program, which is funded through the Historic Preservation Fund, which uses revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf, providing assistance for a broad range of preservation projects without expending tax dollars. Grant-supported projects include surveys and documentation, interpretation and education, oral histories, architectural services, historic structure reports, planning, and physical preservation.

The press release with details on all the grants can be accessed here:

Princess Radziwill to attend “Truman Talks Nelle Harper Lee” in Monroeville
Monroeville will welcome a very special guest on the weekend of September 27. Princess Anna Christina Radziwill, a longtime family friend of Truman Capotes’s, will be attending the world premiere of “Truman Talks Nelle Harper Lee.”

The play, written and performed by Broadway actor Joel Vig, will be presented in the historic Monroe County Courthouse and focuses on the relationship between two of Alabama’s most prominent writers. The setting is a fictional surprise party on Nelle Harper Lee’s fiftieth birthday. Mr. Vig is noted for originating roles in “Hairspray” and “Ruthless, The Musical.”

Princess Tina Radziwill has remarked on an earlier production starring Mr. Vig as Truman Capote: “Joel Vig gives an extraordinary performance. Having known Truman quite well, I was convinced that he had somehow returned to amuse and captivate us for one last, precious evening. Mr. Vig’s performance was a tour de force with the audience standing and cheering at the end.”

The princess is the daughter of Prince Stanislaw Albrecht Radziwill and his wife, Princess Lee Bouvier Radziwill. Her mother was known as a muse to Truman Capote, providing inspiration for a number of characters and circumstances in his work. Capote was a frequent guest in their home when Princess Tina Radziwill was a child. Her mother, Lee, traveled extensively with Capote and was last in Alabama in 1967 for the filming of “A Thanksgiving Visitor,” which he dedicated to her. The production featured Geraldine Page and was shot at the historic Marks House in Pike Road, just outside of Montgomery. Princess Lee Bouvier Radziwill is remembered, as well, as the sister of First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.

The princess will be accompanied by Dr. Stuart Noel, President of the Truman Capote Society and a friend and supporter of the Monroe County Museum Endowment, Inc., producer of the event.

Tickets are available and prices vary for the 27th, 28th, and 29th performances. For more information call the Monroe County Museum at 251-575-7433

Alabama Tourism Department’s 2019 Fall tourism workshop
The Alabama Tourism Department will host its semi-annual Tourism Workshop, Wed., Oct 16. The workshop will held be in Montgomery at the Alabama Center for Commerce Building, 401 Adams Ave., from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. in room 342. The workshop is designed for new tourism industry members, event organizers and anyone else interested in enhancing tourism in their area. Many of ATD’s staff members will attend this workshop and you will have an opportunity for one-on-one time with each of them. There is no registration fee.

For additional information, please contact Rosemary Judkins at 334-242-4493 or via email at rosemary.judkins@Tourism.Alabama.Gov 

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