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Alabama pastor leads tours, seminars about state’s civil rights history

Pastor Keelan Adams looks over the Court Square Fountain in Montgomery, Ala., – the site of the largest slave market in America from 1850-1865.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP) – The soles of Keelan Adams’ shoes are well worn from the city’s streets.

On many mornings, you can find him walking around downtown, sharing passionately about the history of the area – where it’s been, where it is now and where it’s headed.

It’s a story he can’t help but share.

That’s why Adams founded Montgomery Deep History, a company that offers walking tours and seminars about the history of Alabama’s capital city and how it fits into the greater history of the state and the nation. He presents it in a way that provides “a roadmap for healing.”

To him, it pairs well with his other role – associate pastor of Flatline Church at Chisholm. As a pastor, he’s constantly trying to lead people to the healing power of the Gospel, so they can be made right with God and unified with each other in the family of God through the blood of Jesus.

And as a pastor, he’s also a historian.

‘Anchored in truth’

“Every pastor is a historian to some degree because of their studies,” Adams said. “Already having a historical background in Scripture helps me to tell the story of Montgomery in an informed way anchored in truth.”

Montgomery is a city that sits “at the crossroads of history,” according to writings on the Montgomery Deep History website by pastor and author Alan Cross. The artistic fountain in Court Square is “arguably one of the most important pieces of historical real estate in America.”

Or, as Adams puts it, every square inch of that area is “packed with history.”

For the past two years, he’s been walking school groups, church groups and individuals around downtown Montgomery, sharing the stories of the Muskogee (Creek) Indians, early European settlers, forced slave migrations, the lead-up to the Civil War and how religion interacts with all of that, including a little-known Charles Spurgeon incident. He also shares his personal story of how his own family came to live in the area.

And that fountain – that’s where it all comes together. It was the site of the largest slave market in America from 1850-1865.

Adams said humanity’s story is one of brokenness, starting all the way back with the history of what happened in the Garden of Eden and original sin. That brokenness shows up in the history of the city he calls home.

But Adams is part of a growing group of Montgomery residents working toward healing and unity. It’s becoming part of the fabric of the church’s story in the city and beyond.

His tour is aimed at being a piece of that puzzle, helping people look at the past, where religion went wrong and how it can go right, Adams said. It’s aimed at helping people of different backgrounds find healing and forgiveness.

“We’re seeing a spark of hope,” he said.

For more information, visit montgomerydeephistory.com.

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  • Grace Thornton/The Alabama Baptist