Honoring History, Inspiring Change: Our Montgomery Experience

May 24, 2024
by Becky Carter, Senior Director of Network Advancement at Rebuilding Together National

In mid-April, my coworkers and I had the privilege of meeting in Montgomery, AL for our annual all-staff meeting. These meetings are a time when we gather with one another to plan and reflect on the work of Rebuilding Together. In a now mostly Zoom-filled world it offered us the chance to have authentic in-person conversations and work together as leaders forging a way forward for our network and our collective vision – safe homes and communities for everyone. 

We chose to visit Montgomery as it is both the birthplace of the confederacy and the civil rights movement and today home to The Legacy Sites – The Legacy Museum, The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and Freedom Monument Sculpture Park – spaces dedicated to 400 years of American history that invites visitors to reckon with our history of racial injustice. This museum and the City of Montgomery are important because they offer an in-depth look at the historical practices that have influenced the neighborhoods and communities we live in today.  

Traditionally, we have a few days filled with power points in a hotel meeting room and usually some sort of team activity that promotes collaboration and team building. This year we decided to disrupt that tradition and offer a much different, yet extremely valuable experience rooted in understanding our nation’s history and the impact it has on our communities and those that we serve.

We were lucky to be joined by three members of our Central Alabama affiliate for dinner the evening before our museum visit – Dee Moody, executive director; Ann Sikes, founding and current board member; and Charles James, current board member. Each wanted us to understand that Montgomery is like any other city in America working to acknowledge and recognize their past while striving to build a better, more equitable future for all residents.  

Dee spoke about how in all his years of service the difference he had seen in having people help people was life-changing not only for him but for those who helped and those they served. He shared stories from clients about the meaning of help and a story about a young homeless man finding purpose in serving others. 

Ann emphasized the importance of community engagement and grassroots efforts in creating lasting change. She highlighted the power of individuals coming together to make a difference, echoing Rebuilding Together's core belief in the impact of community-driven solutions.

Charles shared his perspective on the role of history in shaping our understanding of present-day challenges. He emphasized the need for honest conversations about our past to inform our actions in the present and future.

Our visit to the Legacy Sites was a powerful reminder of the work that still needs to be done to address systemic inequalities and create a more just society. It was a humbling experience that reminded us of the importance of our work at Rebuilding Together and the role we play in building safe and healthy communities.

As we left Montgomery, we were inspired to continue our work with renewed energy and commitment. We are grateful for the opportunity to have visited such meaningful and impactful sites and look forward to carrying the lessons we learned into our future endeavors.

Thank you, Montgomery, for your hospitality and for inspiring us to continue our work with passion and purpose.