On April 2, the Museum hosted a special program to complement the exhibition now on view, History Refused to Die. The speaker was Mr. Loyd Howard, a local businessman who shared his memories of life in Montgomery during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
To watch Mr. Howard walk into the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art’s Orientation Circle, you would think he was a quiet but reserved man. At first, he stopped to scan the room to see who was in attendance at the reception held in his honor. He then spoke to many, smiled at some, and even hugged others.
After 30 minutes of socializing, he was introduced to a crowd of nearly 50 people. When Mr. Howard walked up to the podium, almost instantly he transformed from a mature business owner of 55 years to a 14-year old teenager growing up in Montgomery, Alabama during a time when discrimination was at an all-time high. He talked about his early life working in a barbershop with Raymond Parks (the husband of Rosa Parks) and others. Mr. Howard said, “Raymond Parks thought he and Mrs. Parks would be killed after she refused to give up her seat. What photographs don’t reveal and people don’t know is, she wasn’t sitting in the white section of the bus. She was actually arrested for not giving up her seat to a white man in the black section of the bus.” Those words had some people in the audience shaking their heads.
The Civil Rights activist also described how blacks learned to unite during this period. He recalled when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. arrived in Montgomery. Mr. Howard said, “We didn’t even know what a boycott was. They had to teach us what it meant. We were also taught how we needed to react to everything non-violently.” Mr. Howard said it was a movement that pushed the nation towards social reform and he described it as “one of the greatest historical events that the world will ever have.”
As the nation prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott on December 1, 2015, the owner of Howard’s Cosmetics said he hopes his story will help people get another first-hand view of what actually took place during that time. It was so refreshing to have someone who experienced those trials and tribulations in our midst here at the Museum.
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