I find spring on Martha’s Vineyard difficult. We are teased with warm sunny days followed by unexpected plummeting temperatures. The grass is slow to turn green and the trees are reluctant to unfurl their green leaves and come back to life.

After a long cozy winter, hunkered down, listening to howling winds and enduring endless days of gray sky, I get impatient with waiting for sunnier days. So every spring, since I’ve moved to the Vineyard, I’ve taken a trip back to the place where my parents and my grandparents grew up: Alabama.

April in Alabama with its warm days, cool nights, flowering trees, floral scented air, and sprouting green grass is a reminder to me of what is to come, and temporarily staves off my impatience and longing for spring on the Vineyard. I also find it beneficial to wander out of my blissful Vineyard bubble and take stock of what’s happening in the “real world.”

The first time I visited Montgomery was to introduce Vernon Jordan, a longtime Vineyard summer resident, as our speaker at the Durr Lecture.

The Durr lecture series was started by my grandmother, Virginia Durr (also a long-time Vineyard summer resident) in memory of my grandfather, Clifford Durr. My grandparents were both civil rights activists in Montgomery and my grandfather helped Fred Gray with the Rosa Parks case. Mrs. Parks was a dear friend of my grandmother’s.

When I traveled to Montgomery that first year it was with trepidation. My parents, Lucy and Sheldon Hackney who had for years been running the lecture along with my Aunt Ann and Pat Sullivan, were both ill and couldn’t make the trip. I was nervous to leave them behind, but I was even more nervous about speaking in public. But it all went smoothly and I found the lecture uplifting and educational after I stumbled through my introduction.

While there I discovered that despite Montgomery’s unflattering past, I liked it there. And as an unexpected bonus there was the annual picnic preceding the lecture at the Pea Level in Wetumpka, a property owned by my grandparents on which sits the run-down house that my grandfather built, with a lovely creek running behind it.

I liked Wetumpka even better than Montgomery.

In the years since, with many amazing Durr Lecture speakers come and gone, Montgomery no longer has a sleepy downtown. The Equal Justice Initiative Museum, the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice have changed downtown Montgomery into a hub of activity, and throughout the downtown there are interesting plaques describing the historical events that took place in the “Cradle of the Confederacy” and the “Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.”

The Rosa Parks Museum, the Freedom Rides Museum, the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, Martin Luther King’s house and the Dr. Richard Harris House, where the Freedom Riders took refuge, still draw me to them.

If you too are experiencing spring fever, consider visiting Montgomery and attending the free Durr Lecture. This year Martha Prescod Norman Noonan, an SNCC volunteer who has compiled a book of stories from female SNCC workers called Hands on the Freedom Plow, will be speaking on the night of April 28, and Federal Judge J. Michelle Childs, who was on the shortlist to sit on the Supreme Court, speaks on April 29.

Details can be found at durrlectures.org.

Elizabeth McBride lives in Vineyard Haven.