Saturday, 24 May 2014

Day 20: Selma AL to Montgomery AL 56 miles/90km

Time to tune in to Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan on our ride today.
'We shall overcome'
'We shall not be moved'
'Go tell it on the mountain'
'The Times they are A Changin'
'Lift every voice and Sing'
'Change Gonna Come'
'Keep your Eyes on the Prize'
When we were teenagers we watched black and white TV News reports of the sometimes tragic, sometimes heroic and ultimately effective events of the Civil Rights movement.
Even though we were far away in New Zealand these images had a lasting impact on us.
Images from our earlier years shape our attitudes and our perceptions about people and place. Our journeys have taken us to other places where our earlier preconceptions have been challenged. It is as if we are seeking to understand more about what it is to be human.
First we ride over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, site of 'Bloody Sunday' where marchers were beaten in 1965 in the struggle to gain voting rights for African American citizens.
The Voters' Rights Museum is just over the bridge.
Edmund Pettus Bridge

Dick with Sam at The Voters' Rights Museum. Sam has been involved with the museum since it's inception in 1991. Together with Katie who was visitng they told us that they were children during the Civil Rights Marches. Their parents were marchers, Sam's in Selma, Katie's in Atlanta. They described the feeling of uncertainty about whether their parents would come home.
Sam gave us an excellent introduction to the Museum and also to the history of the Civil Rights Movement.
Katie from Georgia. Thank you for sharing your story.


Fear and terror were part of the lives of 'foot soldiers'; the everyday people who were involved. Their stories are captured in the museum.
The photographs in the museum included some we had seem back in New Zealand. Images persist in our memories. We had a similar experience in South Africa when we saw the images in Soweto. It reminds us that any of us are capable of being inhumane but also that even the least of us can make a difference to improve the a situation if we work together for good.
The non violent strategies fostered within the group my Martin Luther King Jr were redolent of Ghandhi and were effective.
These photos remind us of images on black and white TV in 1965 when we were teenagers in New Zealand.
Foot castes of the people who walked in the marches. Video recordings have been made, too
The march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama
We met Glason in Selma. He has the skills to make old and broken buildings good as new. He brightened our morning.

We set off to ride the 56 miles from Selma to Montgomery.

Next year will be the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights walk fromSelma to Montgomery.

 

We arrive in Montgomery. All is quiet even though it is midday Friday.

We are staying in the centre of town.

An oyster bar, Wintzells, over the road calls out to us - well, at least to Dick. I know there will be something other than oysters for me.

The manager 'TJ' comes and chat with us. I am beginning to wonder what it is about us that is like a beacon. I am happy whatever it is because we are meeting wonderful people.

The restuarant walls are completely covered with sayings...

Oh, look...Some little petunias enjoying the sunshine.
We go walkabout.
Historical events are signposted.
Here the Bernard Whitehurst case is outlined. He was a black man who was mistaken as a suspect for a robbery and was shot by a police officer. The subsequent revelation of a police cover up resulted in the resignation of the Mayor, eight police officers.

Al Bouler greets us - possibly because we are peering at a map.

He is on his way to the Old Alabama Town display area where he re-enacts history. He could be mistaken for Davy Crockett.

 

Cotton bolls in the information centre at Old Alabama Town. A little reminder of the main crop in the history of Montgomery.

We decide to take a guided tour with lovely Mary Sue Burt who graciously takes us through an historic townhouse built in 1852-53. Pearls, too.

 

 

I chat with Kim and Jade who are College students. Jade is taking a paper on Christianity and racism. Which raised a hundred questions from me. But no time to delve in depth. They told me that the Christian focus of the College in religion papers is very much about action and addressing injustice.
They are both involved with after school programmes for disadvantaged children and in other community linked church work.
Let's keep walking.
The Capitol. The destination of the marchers in 1965.
And very close, in the next block, is the Baptist Church where Martin Luther King Jr was pastor.
It was not bombed or damaged during the civil rights era. Jade suggested that this was possibly because of its location and the likelihood that the ensuing media coverage would have caused a national outcry.
 
Around the corner is the Civil Rights Memorial Center.
The sculpture by Maya Lin (who designed the Vietnam wall in Washington) is based on the healing effect of water. It was inspired by Martin Luther King's paraphrase of Amos 5:24 ... 'We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.'
The displays inside the memorial centre focus on the people who died during the Civil Rights campaign. Their names are inscribed on the memorial sculpture. Water flows over the names.
 
These statues below got me wondering. I am puzzled about the expression of a linear link between education and commerce. There are many other purposes of education, and of commerce.
They are located in an area which had been slave depots in the nineteenth century.
The sculpture of the two men is entitled 'Commerce', Commerce enhances progress in Education.
And, the woman and children Is entitled 'Education', Education enhances growth in Commerce.
 
A visit to the Hank Williams Museum rounded off our day of history.

 

The day is not over...

Some food photographs especially for Shirley.

Oysters with shrimp and crawfish.

Fried green tomatoes.
We sat outside enjoying our meals and we noticed many people out walking. People in smart clothes. Family groups. Happy family groups.
This is a happy day for high schools seniors.
It is graduation day. A time to celebrate.
Meet Taeja, graduating high school today. Going to Xavier College, New Orleans in the fall to study pre-med and maybe pharmacy.
And her proud parents.

 

And Michaela graduating high school and off to Auburn College in the Fall maybe to study engineering.

Such hope for us all when we meet such lovely clever girls who are going on to further study.

And, to complete the day - Happy Birthday Lakira.

This has been an extraordinary day.

A day for reflection.

A day filled with people. Poignant, reconciled, happy, hopeful.

A day which closed with meeting young people filled with hope for the future.

Let us wish them every blessing.

May each one make a difference.

 

 

 

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