‘Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy… that’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ And doesn’t Harper Lee’s state Alabama and the Deep South have a lot to sing and write about.
That great novel, To Kill A Mockingbird was 60 years old last year.
And it is regularly listed as one of the public’s favourite books and Harper Lee is rightly celebrated in the Deep South state.
So much so that the good residents of her own Monroeville homestead live the story every year.
With the locals actually becoming part of the cast alongside Jem, Scout, Boo Ridley, Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson.
Part of the cast
Every April and May, a version of Mockingbird is put on by people from the community.
And you’ll see the jury preside over Tom Robinson’s trial is selected from the audience before each performance.
While just a short drive away lies Montgomery where Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald lived from 1931-32 and where Scott worked on Tender is the Night.
Civil Rights, is of course, a journey which still alas is anywhere near completion.
As Dr King himself, and his followers predicted.
And which is evidenced in the unfinished statue to the Father of the Movement in DC.
We can though track the history of the Civil Rights Movement throughout the South by visiting 120 landmarks across 14 states.
Not that you have to worry about working any of it out for yourself as our friends from Alabama have only pointed us.
In the direction of an invaluable companion book.
And when we say our friends we only mean Dr Bernice King, Dr King’s youngest.
Stuff of history
More on the book:
The 128-page hardcover book showcases former Southern Living photographer Art Meripol’s pictures.
The historic photos, paired with more than 200 images of the landmarks today, underscore the transformative experience of the trail and its endured relevance.
‘The Civil Rights Trail is a one-of-a-kind cultural travel experience that everyone should visit.
‘To renew their perspective and gain a deeper appreciation for those who fought before us,” said Dr. Bernice King.
‘Each landmark across the trail serves as a reminder.
‘Of where my father and many other brave activists fought tirelessly for our fundamental freedoms so that future generations of Black Americans could enjoy a better life.’
The heroes and heroines
Travellers can draw inspiration from the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
And follow the harrowing stories of 14-year-old Emmett Till.
And Mississippi leader Medgar Evers, whose indomitable widow Myrlie I met in Jackson at the opening of the Mississippi museums.
Also take in the story of the Birmingham Sunday School attendees.
And the Selma voting-rights marchers and Nashville Freedom Riders.
While reading their stories and retracing their footsteps at sites along the trail.
The magic bus
The Greyhound is of course a misnomer as your journey goes at snail’s pace.
But ever since I took my first one from New York to Boston with my fellow pale-faced Scots.
And mingled with Native Americans, blacks and a melting pot of nationalities.
I have sought out the bus as my preferred mode of transport in the US.
And enjoy the bus the way it should.
And consider too its place in American culture with the Freedom Ride through Civil Rights history.
The book also underscores the movement’s present-day relevance by featuring historic destinations such as the Smithsonian National African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C., alongside new memorial sites including the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.
How to stay informed
For more information about the book or to plan your journey on the trail, visit civilrightstrail.com.
We are on UN’s red code to Save the World and 30 years of saltwater welling in my eyes since I first heard Julian Lennon’s song, Rainy Days and Songdays now hails those singers who’ve been addressing the crisis for years.
When will there be?
Harvest for the World (Isley Brothers): Gather every man, gather every woman, Celebrate your life, give thanks for your children, gather everyone, gather altogether, overlookin’ none, hopin’ life gets better for the world.
The sonorous tones of Cincinnati, Ohio’s finest, carry on them a wonderfully stripped-back message we can all take on board.
My own focus on Cincinnati has been honed since sending one of my writers there back in the day.
I’d plan out the travel pieces they came back with early in the week for the weekend publication and was relaxing in the Dylan Hotel, Amsterdam (as you do) having mapped out the early draft.
When said writer texted me in a panic saying I’d misspelt Cincinnati and that this was jeopardising his contacts with them.
Despite it, of course, being an early draft and me being back in the office two days later. Hey ho, between us we gave the Cincinnatians what they wanted a justifiable celebration of their city.
Hail Caesars Palace and 55 years of the most famous entertainment hotel on Earth.
Caesars has no apostrophe maybe because the Ancient Romans didn’t use them, although the pitch is that it’s becasue everybody staying at the hotel is treated as a Caesar.
The pedant in me would say the apostrophe should go after the final ‘s’ then.
But leave your pedants Caesars and Vegas is all about pleasance.
Fab, fab, fab
The resort, on the west side of the Strip between Bellagio and the Mirage is truly immense with 121,181 sqft of gaming space, a 22,450ft Colosseum showbiz venue which all the greats have, and do, perform at with Celine Dion the latest.
And 3,960 rooms so there will be one free for you!
You want to know what’s on offer. Me too.
Joe Biden who we have all had such high hopes for is dragging his feet on allowing us back in (or is that just me).
And he’s supposed to be making an announcement on Labor Day, Monday, September 6, which makes it tight for me attending my American Travel Fair, IPW.
Fear not though whatever happens in Vegas will not stay in Vegas either way and I’ll continue to bring news of Caesars and all the resorts and fun you can have in Sin City.
Deals, deals, deals
Caesars is offering 25% off rooms.
Our friends at British Airways have given us more skinny on what Caesars Palace has to offer.
The Palace has a choice of eight pools, at the Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis.
And you can even play swim-up blackjack. Or unwind in your private cabana with attentive waiters on hand.
Every woman loves a shop and you can treat yourself to luxury retail therapy and enjoy fine dining at Caesars’ exclusive shopping destination, The Forum Shops too.
BA is offering three nights in Vegas for less than £1,000, actually £927 which gives some extra bucks to splash on the tables.
While our old friends at Harrah’s which is linked to Caesar’s will offer you party bar fun.