With her More Than Tours, a social enterprise that provides educational and interactive tours of the capital city, and the new More Up Campus, artist Michelle Browder is using Montgomery’s rich past to help local students and others have a richer future.
When and why did you start More Than Tours? I started I Am More Than in 2012 to expose students to Montgomery’s story and motivate them to be “More Than” a statistic, generalization or stereotype. We needed funding for on-going projects for 52 students. I’m not a grant writer; I am however, a creative and entrepreneur, so I started More Than Tours in September 2016. I didn’t see a tour company in Montgomery delving deeper into this history and offering more than a watered-down version of King’s dream and Rosa’s aching feet. I thought it was important to explore more of Montgomery’s rich history and speak truth to the civil rights struggle.
What is the More Up Campus? In 2012, I decided to leave Montgomery. But then the students let me know they wanted more exposure and more information on how they can be productive citizens. Students wanted to be successful business owners, artists and more. I listened, and my path took a sharp turn to the needs of these students; I decided to stay in Montgomery and create The More Up Campus.
What’s on the horizon? We’re doing programs at the More Than a Horse Farm, 17 acres on the Selma to Montgomery Trail that is home to rescue horses, dogs, cats and rabbits. Here too, we use art and history with the addition of horseback riding, to heal both children and mature riders with an emphasis on providing a space for underserved communities of color.
MEET THE MOTHERS
As part of Michelle Browder’s honest look at area history, she created the Mothers of Gynecology sculpture monument on the More Up Campus. This moving exhibit of three women rendered in metal was erected to honor the sacrifice of Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey, the three enslaved women who were used as subjects in experiments conducted by the so-called “father of gynecology,” Dr. J. Marion Sims.