In her own words, SITES director of scheduling and exhibitor relations Michelle Torres-Carmona recounts a meeting with civil rights activist Johnnie Carr in Montgomery, Alabama.
"One of the most rewarding aspects of my job at SITES is attending exhibition openings. I was reminded of this when I learned Mrs. Johnnie Carr had passed. Up until her death, Mrs. Carr was the president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, a position she held since 1967, after the previous president, Dr. Martin Luther King moved on to a lead a national movement. I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Carr in December 2005, during the opening of 381 Days: The Montgomery Bus Boycott Story at the Alabama State Capitol.
There were multiple events taking place in Montgomery that week--the 50th anniversary of a milestone in our country’s history. While my visit was filled with many wonderful memories, too many to share in a blog entry, one moment truly stood out. It included a conversation with Mrs. Carr, Dr. Joseph Lowery, and Congressman John Lewis (also in Montgomery to take part in the activities). These three icons of the civil rights movement were waiting to tape an episode of the Tavis Smiley Show. Before they went on, they began to talk about their friend, Martin. I looked at Lori Yarrish, deputy director of SITES, because at that precise moment, we felt so honored to be listening to this conversation.
To the world, he was Dr. Martin Luther King, but to Mrs. Carr, he was simply "Martin." She talked about his sense of humor; she even recounted a few jokes, noting Martin could be quite the jokester. Given his iconic status, we sometimes forget Dr. King was also a human being. It was truly a special moment, Lori and I were both struck at the clarity of Mrs. Carr’s memory as she talked about Dr. King. She was, after all, ninety-four years young.
We will forever remember Mrs. Johnnie Carr. Her sacrifices and contributions have given African American women and all Americans so many opportunities today. Thank you my freedom sister."