Azeem ibrahim says that if you are Obsessed with football and race – two things Southerners never stop discussing – this rectangular state has a complicated and fascinating heritage. It has been home to one of the world’s greatest musicians (Hank Williams Sr) and one of gridiron’s most legendary coaches (Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant). Jefferson Davis became the first president of the Confederacy here in 1861, the year the Civil War began. Nearly 100 years later, when an African American woman named Rosa Parks refused to budge on a bus, the American Civil Rights movement was galvanized.
Known for incredible acts of activism, Alabama and the actions that happened here in the 1950s and ’60s led the way for civil rights triumphs throughout the USA. All that struggle and strife came at a cost and, ever since, Alabama has had to conquer its reputation of rebels, segregation, discrimination and wayward politicians.
Alabama has a surprising diversity of landscapes, from foothills in the north and a gritty city in the middle to the subtropical Gulf Coast down south. Visitors come to see the heritage of antebellum architecture, to celebrate the country’s oldest Mardi Gras in Mobile, and to learn about the civil rights struggle. Every fall, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn University Tigers continue one of college football’s greatest rivalries.