An odd point of irony from this particular writer’s life: I have boarded planes that touched down in places hundreds and thousands of miles from my home state of Georgia (USA), traveling to California, England, Germany, Scotland, and elsewhere. But somehow I never journeyed west, just next door, to the state of Alabama until visiting the rural town of Selma last Sunday, March 8, 2009, during its Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee.
The occasion generated a major “Aha” moment––and a breathless exclamation of “Oh Wow” at the same time.
I was all of seven years old when the Bloody Sunday occurred that elevated Selma’s reputation for racial intolerance to the level of full-blown infamy. I have no actual memory of the events that led to that day but I suspect now they played a large part in the creation of a very suspicious psychic collage of loud laughter interrupted by sudden silence bloated with overwhelming fear. I’m certain, now, those events must have been the reason in those days that the faces of so many Blacks trembled hard with grief and anger; and why those of so many Whites burned red with rage or shame.
Even if no one in my Savannah neighborhood spoke about it around seven-year-olds like me, every adult knew--from newspapers or television or the radio—about the young black man named Jimmie Lee Jackson who had been shot when he fought back against the policemen beating on his mother. They knew he had died and that his death had prompted 600 people to stage a protest march from Selma to Montgomery, starting on March 7, 1965.
The plan for the marchers was to follow the nonviolence protocol of the day to bring attention both to the unjust murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson and to protest the denial of African Americans’ right to vote in Selma and other parts of Alabama. It didn’t work so well. As the marchers attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge and begin their 50-mile trek to Montgomery, they were met by state troopers who assaulted them with tear gas, cattle prods, whips, and billy clubs. Several days later, Martin Luther King, Jr., led a more triumphant nonviolent march to Montgomery. But the blood that had already been spilled baptized that day with the name by which it would always remain known. Moreover, in the two weeks that followed, Reverend James Reeb and Viola Gregg Liuzzo, both white supporters of the black voters’ registration movement, were murdered.
NEXT: Part 2 by Aberjhani
Causes Aberjhani * Supports
I make contributions to a number of charities through my lenses on Squidoo but the following are a few that interest me the most: