i got up early in the morning and started out driving the exact 54 MILE (that's right - 54 MILE) route that marchers took on the selma to montgomery voting rights march from march 21 to 25, 1965. (the only part i couldn't follow it exactly was where the interstate came in but i got back on the route after about 1/2 mile or so.) it was one of the most amazing experiences i have ever had. it is absolutely extraordinary to me that this event occurred. this was taken through extremely hostile territory, and in fact the first two attempts were stymied. the first attempt resulted in bloody sunday where marchers (who were non-violent and simply walking) were brutally attacked and tear gassed by state troopers AND local police at the foot of the edmund pettus bridge in selma. this is the side of the bridge the marchers walked up after walking approx. 6 blocks through selma.
the second attempt was labelled "turnaround tuesday" b/c dr. martin luther king jr. made the decision (somewhat unpopular w/other activists) to turn around at the bridge b/c after seeking court protection from law enforcement attack, the court issued an injuction stopping the march until the case could be heard. they made a symbolic march just over the bridge to the bloody sunday site, the leaders kneeled to pray and then turned around.
success finally came on the third try after a favorable court ruling and protection. amazingly enough, the governor of alabama, george wallace, flat out refused to provide protection for the marchers. so president johnson nationalized almost 2,000 alabama guardsmen and also sent 2,000 more soldiers as well as fbi agents and federal marshals.
i took photos along the route of significant places in the movement. the following are all in selma.
many of these facts come from the national park service's selma to montgomery brochure. i was given a huge stack by a park service guy to share w/anyone who wants one. it is a good concise history w/lots of good photos.
downtown selma w/the bridge visible in background
jimmy lee jackson shot and killed by a state trooper after a night march in alabama for voting rights when he was trying to defend his mother who was being lunged at by another state trooper. they had fled into a cafe after their non-violent march was stopped by violent state troopers attacking them.
viola liuzzo was shot and killed by klansmen who forced her car off the road and shot her in the head while she was shuttling a marcher from montgomery back to selma. she had been doing so for 3 days after being inspired to get involved upon seeing media coverage while at her home in detroit. she had 5 children.
rev. james reeb i mentioned above
jonathan daniels was shot and killed in another alabama town by a deputy after marching w/black teenagers who were protesting discrimination by stores. he was a seminary student from new hampshire.
medgar evers hopefully you remember from yesterday's lesson - oops i mean blog
michael schwermer, james chaney and andrew goodman were the three civil rights workers abducted and killed by klansmen in mississippi after being involved w/freedom summer. (which included bringing attention to voting rights abuses and starting freedom schools teaching young black children about their rights and history.)
sammy younge jr. was shot and killed by a service station worker after he had a brief verbal dispute w/him when he believed he was being directed to a blacks only bathroom in the back.
and i am drained.
next entry: rest of march to montgomery and sites in montgomery