Before the apartments and parks, churches, theaters, schools and neighborhoods ... before the shopping centers and restaurants, gas stations and salons ... before the interstate that connects it all together, even - when land was just land, not real estate, and certainly not prime ... before any of it began, Montgomery was farmland.
Wealth in Alabama is a curious thing. Money is made in the traditional professions - doctors and lawyers and whatnot. It is made in business, in the paper mill or the power company. But any old money in Alabama (if such a thing there be, anymore) has roots in farming. And I can't think about old farms in Alabama without wondering whose backs those farms were built on, and how different the city would be if there had been compensation and fairness on those farms.
This is our land, this is where we live. Oddly, this is what I thought about as much of Montgomery flooded today. We are built on farmland, raised up out of the fields, all of us. The land that witnessed so much injustice has been sold and split, sold again, split again. Landscaped, paved, lined with trees and fences. But no matter how we mark it, or how far removed our surroundings become, the reality will always be that we are walking and driving and living on the cotton fields of Alabama, and all that represents. It will always be a part of who we are.
The thing about farmland? Sometimes it floods.