Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery AL, designed by Maya Lin (Scarborough photo)

Most people only know the artist Maya Lin from her groundbreaking work designing the stark Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC.

She also designed the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, the city where one day long ago, Rosa Parks sat where she wanted on a segregated city bus.

Lin’s interactive and imaginative black granite artwork honors those who were killed during the US civil rights movement.  It sits just down the street from Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, and within shouting distance of the Alabama state capitol (where Governor George Wallace declared, “Segregation now, segregation forever!”)

The names of the dead are inscribed in a cone-shaped stone that has water running over it, so visitors can touch the names through the moving water.

Behind that is a black granite wall with Dr. King’s moving words paraphrased from the Bible’s Book of Amos, “until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Read this interesting account of what inspired Lin to build using water.

Rosa Parks and Jefferson Davis meet on a street in Montgomery, AL (Scarborough photo)The Memorial’s honorees still live in the news today, because old cases have been reopened and prosecuted. 

For example, two names on the memorial commemorate Henry Dee and Charles Moore, who were murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan in  May 2, 1964 in Meadville, Mississippi.  Last month, on August 24, 2007, James Ford Seale was sentenced to three life terms for the crime.

The Memorial is on an outdoor plaza at the Southern Poverty Law Center and is open all year, 24 hours a day.  There is no admission fee, and the site is wheelchair accessible.

From the Web site, “Center staff members are available to conduct short presentations for groups visiting the Memorial on Monday through Friday, between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. To schedule a presentation, please call (334) 956-8200 well in advance of your visit.”