In The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, what states do the Watsons travel through?

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The Watson family lives in Flint, a city north of Detroit, in east Michigan. To reach Alabama, they will first go through Ohio, which is directly to the south of eastern Michigan. From there, they will continue traveling south in Ohio; their planned destination for the first night is the city of Cincinnati, but the father decides that they should drive straight through instead of stopping anywhere overnight. Cincinnati is on the Ohio River, directly across from Covington, Kentucky. The family will continue south through Kentucky and then cross into Tennessee. Still heading south, they must drive all the way through Tennessee, which is on the northern side of Alabama, in order finally to reach their destination of Birmingham, Alabama.

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The Watsons have a doozy of a road trip as they plan out a journey from Flint, Michigan (one of the northernmost states in the United States) to their hometown of Birmingham, Alabama (one of the southernmost states in America). Momma plans out a meticulous route with several stops along the way to allow them to rest and sleep in motels. Her route plans for them to travel to Cincinnati, Ohio the first day, and stay there at night. Then, they would travel on to Knoxville, Tennessee, and stay there the second night. Finally, they would head on to Birmingham.

In the end, however, Daddy decides to drive through the night without stopping, so that they can save money on motels. While this frustrates everyone, they are delighted to get to Birmingham early. In the end, their trip takes them through Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky, and Alabama.

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On the first day of their trip, the Watsons leave Flint, Michigan and travel via I-75 to Cincinnati, Ohio, a trip of 300 miles. They plan to stay in a hotel in Cincinnati. On the second day, they head 250 miles south to Knoxville, Tennessee, and on the third day, they drive 300 miles to Grandma Sands's house in Birmingham, Alabama. They have to plan their trip because, as a Black family, they can't stop wherever they want. This route takes them through six states: Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, the very northwestern corner of Georgia, and Alabama. The trip is just under 800 miles long. When they finally arrive in Birmingham, Kenny thinks that the city looks a lot like Flint, though it it is much warmer. Kenny and Joey have never met Grandma Sands, and Byron last saw his grandmother 10 years before, when he was 10.

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The Watsons begin their trip in Flint, Michigan. Momma has created a notebook detailing the costs of the trip, the route, the stops along the way, etc. She plans for the trip to take three days. The Watsons are to drive for three hundred miles from Flint, Michigan to Cincinnati, Ohio. Wilona planned for them to stay in a motel and then journey on to Knoxville, Tenessee. On the third day, they were to drive from Tenessee to Birmingham, Alabama. Taking this route would bring the Watsons through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and then Alabama.

Although Momma has planned their route and stops very carefully, she doesn't count on Daddy deciding to drive the whole way through to save money on motels. Momma is furious when she finds out that Daddy has altered her carefully laid plans, but is thrilled when they arrive in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama.

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In traveling from Flint, Michigan to Birmingham, Alabama, the Watsons would have had to travel through Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee before reaching their destination in Alabama.  Depending on which roads they took, it is also possible that they may have spent a short time in Ohio after leaving Michigan and before crossing into Indiana as well.

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