Selma Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Selma

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    We Shall Overcome Trail

    by butterflykizzez04 Updated Feb 9, 2014
    Start of the Trail Visitors Center in Selma
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    The Selma-to-Montgomery March for voting rights ended three weeks--and three events--that represented the political and emotional peak of the modern civil rights movement. On "Bloody Sunday," March 7, 1965, some 600 civil rights marchers headed east out of Selma on U.S. Route 80. They got only as far as the Edmund Pettus Bridge six blocks away, where state and local lawmen attacked them with billy clubs and tear gas and drove them back into Selma. Two days later on March 9, Martin Luther King, Jr., led a "symbolic" march to the bridge. Then civil rights leaders sought court protection for a third, full-scale march from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery. Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., weighed the right of mobility against the right to march and ruled in favor of the demonstrators. "The law is clear that the right to petition one's government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups...," said Judge Johnson, "and these rights may be exercised by marching, even along public highways." On Sunday, March 21, about 3,200 marchers set out for Montgomery, walking 12 miles a day and sleeping in fields. By the time they reached the capitol on Thursday, March 25, they were 25,000-strong. Less than five months after the last of the three marches, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965--the best possible redress of grievances.

    The Selma to Montgomery marches, also known as Bloody Sunday and the two marches that followed, were marches and protests held in 1965 that marked the political and emotional peak of the American civil rights movement. All three were attempts to march from Selma to Montgomery where the Alabama capitol is located. The marches grew out of the voting rights movement in Selma, launched by local African-Americans who formed the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL). In 1963, the DCVL and organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) began voter-registration work. When white resistance to black voter registration proved intractable, the DCVL requested the assistance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to support voting rights.
    The first march took place on March 7, 1965 — known as "Bloody Sunday" — when 600 marchers, protesting the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson and ongoing exclusion from the electoral process, were attacked by state and local police with billy clubs and tear gas. The second march was held the following Tuesday (March 9th), and resulted in 2,500 protesters turning around after crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
    The third march started March 16. The marchers averaged 10 miles (16 km) a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the "Jefferson Davis Highway". Protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, marchers arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25.[1]
    The route is memorialized as the Selma To Montgomery Voting Rights Trail, and is a U.S. National Historic Trail.

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    Brown Chapel AME Church

    by butterflykizzez04 Updated Feb 9, 2014
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    Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church is a church in Selma, Alabama, United States. This church was a starting point for the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 and, as the meeting place and offices of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) during the Selma Movement, played a major role in the events that led to the adoption of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The nation's reaction to Selma's "Bloody Sunday" march is widely credited with making the passage of the Voting Rights Act politically viable in the United States Congress.[3][4]
    It was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage on June 16, 1976 and later declared a National Historic Landmark on February 4, 1982

    Both the building and the members of Brown Chapel AME Church played pivotal roles in the Selma, Alabama, marches that helped lead to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The starting point for the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, Brown Chapel also hosted the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) for the first three months of 1965. Another nearby local church, First Baptist, acted as the headquarters for the organizers of the Selma Campaign--the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Brown Chapel AME Church, with its imposing twin towers and Romanesque Revival styling, was built in 1908 by a black builder--of whom little is known -- Mr. A.J. Farley. On Sunday morning (known as Bloody Sunday) March 7, 1965, despite a ban on protest marches by Governor George Wallace, about 600 black protesters gathered outside Brown Chapel to march from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery.

    From a tiny church in Montgomery, a new general stepped in to command his bloodied but unbeaten army. Then little-known Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. marshaled his troops for another peaceful assault on the old powers that be. On March 9th, he led a symbolic march to the bridge. There the authorities again stopped the marchers. King avoided bloodshed and instead had his people kneel and pray. This march was never intended to be anything but a symbol focusing even more attention on Alabama. Then on March 21st, after winning a federal injunction allowing the march, he set out again from Brown Chapel with around 3,000 followers. When he arrived in Montgomery, he was at the head of a triumphant 25,000 marchers, both Black and white. Within five months of that fateful day, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    First Baptist Church, along with its close neighbor, Brown Chapel AME Church, played a pivotal role in the Selma, Alabama, marches that helped lead to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The members of First Baptist Church allowed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to use their church as the planning site and organizational headquarters of the Selma campaign. First Baptist Church, constructed in 1894 in the Gothic Revival style by a local black architect, Dave Benjamin West, is considered one of the most architecturally significant late-19th-century black churches in the state. Despite a ban on protest marches by Governor George Wallace, on Sunday morning, March 7, 1965, about 600 black protestors gathered outside Brown Chapel to march from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery. Leading the march were the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's (SCLC) Hosea Williams and SNCC's John Lewis. At the Edmund Pettus Bridge, six blocks from Brown Chapel, mounted troopers confronted the marchers and ordered them to disperse. The marchers stood their ground and the troopers advanced, billy clubs raised. Lewis fell, his skull fractured. Others fell, screaming, as white onlookers cheered. Then Sheriff Jim Clark's deputized posse charged the marchers, firing tear gas and swinging bullwhips and rubber tubing wrapped in barbed wire. That night, ABC interrupted its showing of the movie, Judgement at Nuremberg, to air footage of "Bloody Sunday." By morning, news of the event had spread to nearly every American household, and thousands of march supporters began to flock to Selma. On March 9, Martin Luther King, Jr., led a "symbolic" march to the bridge, and on March 21, after Governor Wallace's ban was overruled by Federal Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., King led the five-day march to the capital. Less than five months later President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.

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    Walking around Historic Selma

    by butterflykizzez04 Written Feb 9, 2014
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    Like other southern states when white Democrats regained political power after Reconstruction, Alabama had imposed Jim Crow laws of racial segregation in public facilities and other means of white supremacy. At the turn of the twentieth century, it passed a new constitution, with electoral provisions, such as poll taxes and literacy tests, that effectively disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites. This left them without representation in government, as well as deprived them of participation in juries and other forms of citizenship. Through legal challenges and activities of private citizens, blacks became increasingly active following service in World War II in trying to exercise their constitutional rights as citizens.
    Selma maintained such typical segregated facilities into the 1960s, which had been adapted to new institutions such as movie theaters. Blacks who attempted to eat at "white-only" lunch counters or sit in the downstairs "white" section of the movie theater were beaten and arrested. More than half of the city's residents were black but because of the restrictive electoral laws and practices, only one percent were registered to vote. This prevented them from serving on juries or taking local office.[6] Blacks were prevented from registering to vote by the literacy test, administered in a subjective way; economic retaliation organized by the White Citizens' Council, Ku Klux Klan violence, and police repression. For instance, to discourage voter registration, the registration board opened doors for registration only two days a month, arrived late, and took long lunches

    Against fierce opposition from Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clark and his volunteer posse, blacks continued their voter registration and desegregation efforts, which expanded during 1963 and the first part of 1964. Defying intimidation, economic retaliation, arrests, firings, and beatings, an ever-increasing number of Dallas County blacks attempted to register to vote, but few were able to do so.[10] In the summer of 1964, a sweeping injunction issued by local Judge James Hare barred any gathering of three or more people under sponsorship of SNCC, SCLC, or DCVL, or with the involvement of 41 named civil rights leaders. This injunction temporarily halted civil rights activity until Dr. King defied it by speaking at Brown Chapel on January 2, 1965.[11]
    Beginning in January 1965, SCLC and SNCC initiated a revived Voting Rights Campaign designed to focus national attention on the systematic denial of black voting rights in Alabama, and particularly Selma. After numerous attempts by blacks to register, resulting in more than 3,000 arrests, police violence, and economic retaliation, the campaign culminated in the Selma to Montgomery marches—initiated and organized by SCLC's Director of Direct Action, James Bevel. This represented one of the political and emotional peaks of the modern civil rights movement.
    On March 7, 1965, approximately 600 civil rights marchers departed Selma on U.S. Highway 80, heading east to march to the capital. When they reached the Edmund Pettus Bridge, only six blocks away, where they were met by state troopers and local sheriff's deputies, who attacked them, using tear gas and billy clubs, and drove them back to Selma. Because of the attacks, this became known as "Bloody Sunday."
    Two days after the march, on March 9, 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. led a symbolic march to the bridge. He and other civil rights leaders attempted to get court protection for a third, larger-scale march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital. Frank Minis Johnson, Jr., the Federal District Court Judge for the area, decided in favor of the demonstrators, saying:
    The law is clear that the right to petition one's government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups...and these rights may be exercised by marching, even along public highways.

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    Edmund Pettus Bridge

    by butterflykizzez04 Written Feb 9, 2014
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    The Edmund Pettus Bridge is a bridge that carries U.S. Route 80 across the Alabama River in Selma, Alabama. Built in 1940, it is named for Edmund Winston Pettus, a former Confederate brigadier general and U.S. Senator from Alabama. The bridge is a steel through arch bridge with a central span of 250 feet (76 m). It is famous as the site of the conflict of Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965, when armed officers attacked peaceful civil rights demonstrators attempting to march to the state capital of Montgomery.
    The bridge was declared a National Historic Landmark on March 11, 2013
    Edmund Winston Pettus was born in Limestone County, Alabama, to John Pettus and Alice Taylor Winston in 1821. He graduated from a public high school and attended Clinton College. He then went on to Tuscumbia, Alabama, to study law and was admitted into the state's bar association in 1842. In 1844 he was elected to serve in the seventh Judicial Circuit of Alabama as a solicitor. From 1847-1849 he served as a lieutenant with the Alabama Volunteers during the Mexican–American War. From 1854 he served as a judge in the seventh Judicial Circuit of Alabama, until resigning in 1858. After resigning as judge he went back to Selma, Alabama where he went back to practicing law. Following the outbreak of the American Civil War he served with the 20th Regiment Alabama Infantry, eventually attaining the rank of brigadier general in 1863 and being assigned a command in the Army of Tennessee. Following the war he resumed his law practice in Selma. He was residing there when he was elected as a United States Senator from Alabama in 1897 and 1903. He died in 1907.[2] Edmund's brother John was also an Alabama politician
    Bloody Sunday:
    The days and months leading up to Bloody Sunday were very chaotic and stressful as blacks were being targeted by whites as they went to register to vote. Most blacks were laughed at or harassed, but some were even beaten or killed. The black registered voters were also hit hard economically, in addition to physical abuse. Some were refused federal food aid, some refused credit at local banks and stores, and some were fired from their jobs
    Voting Rights Act 1965
    Due to the events on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the many people who came to march walked away with a huge accomplishment. The Voting Rights Act made discriminatory voting practices illegal and put a stop to the persecution of the African Americans who had been working for the cause. Section 4 of the Act ended the requirement of literacy tests in six of the Southern states. These states included: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.[6] Section 5 stated that no one could make a change to their voting rules unless first authorized by a three-judge court, the District of Columbia, or by the Attorney General of the United States
    Since 1965, many marches have commemorated the events of Bloody Sunday. On one such occasion, the 30th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, Rep. John Lewis, former president of SNCC and a prominent activist during the Selma to Montgomery marches, said, "It's gratifying to come back and see the changes that have occurred; to see the number of registered voters and the number of Black elected officials in the state of Alabama to be able to walk with other members of Congress that are African Americans." [7] Another notable day was the 40th reunion of Bloody Sunday, when over 10,000 people met to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge again. Among those 10,000 people was, again, Rep. John Lewis, who was one of the men attacked on Bloody Sunday.[8] Also, in 1996, the Olympic torch made its way across the bridge with its carrier, Andrew Young, and many public officials, to symbolize how far the South has come. When Young spoke at the Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, as part of the torch ceremony, he said, "We couldn't have gone to Atlanta with the Olympic Games if we hadn't come through Selma a long time ago

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    Live Oak Cemetery

    by butterflykizzez04 Written Feb 8, 2014
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    THERE IS GLORY IN GRAVES, reads the
    inscription on the Confederate Monument that stands in
    the center of Selma’s National Historic Register
    Cemetery. Visitors who stroll beneath its ancient oaks
    and magnolias draped in Spanish moss, will find glory,
    humor and pathos in the lives whose stories are told
    here.
    One of Live Oak’s unique aspects is its
    bisection by King Street, a busy city thoroughfare. On
    the east side of King Street is the oldest section of the
    Cemetery. It was purchased by the Township of Selma
    in 1829 and named the West Selma Graveyard. It was
    declared a public nuisance in 1856 and a site in East
    Selma became the city cemetery for a time. It was in
    “Elmwood,” now a predominantly black cemetery, that
    most of the soldiers who died during the Civil War were
    buried.
    When it became apparent that areas of
    Elmwood were prone to flooding, the City purchased
    the land between King Street and Valley Creek, from
    Sallie Ann Jones in 1877, and combined it with the
    older section to create “Live Oak Cemetery.”
    The cemetery received its name in 1879 when
    Col. N.H.R. Dawson arranged for “80 Live Oaks and 80
    Magnolias be purchased from Mobile to be planted
    throughout both portions of the cemetery.” Dawson
    himself is buried in the newer portion of the cemetery,
    along with his wife Elodie Todd Dawson. Mrs.
    Dawson’s half-sister was Mary Todd Lincoln, and the
    two maintained close ties throughout the Civil War

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    third march

    by doug48 Updated May 22, 2012

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    march camp site

    federal district judge frank m. johnson lifted the injunction on the march and SNCC and SCLC leaders planned a third march for march 21 st . in preparation for the march the federal government sent 2,000 solders and 1,900 alabama national guardsmen to selma to protect the marchers. since the march 7 th aborted march the protesters ranks swelled from 600 to over 2,500 participants. the selma to montgomery march covers 54 miles and several camp sites were arranged at intervals along the route. pictured is one of the march camp sites.

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    old depot museum

    by doug48 Updated May 22, 2012

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    old depot museum

    the old depot museum is a great place to visit for visitors interested in the history of selma. the old depot was a site in the battle of selma in 1865. the old depot museum has a collection of photos and artifacts relating to selma's past and an interesting collection of civil war relics. most visitors to selma come for it's civil rights historic sites but selma has a rich history prior to the 1960's that is worth exploring.

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    old town historic district

    by doug48 Written May 22, 2012
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    just south of US 80 is the selma old town historic district. pictured is the lee-bender-butler house in the historic district. this beautiful greek revival home was built in 1850 by master builder thomas helm lee. thomas helm lee was a cousin of confederate general robert e. lee. thomas helm lee also built the 1855 sturdivant hall and the 1857 church street methodist church. for those interested in antebellum architecture the old town historic district is worth a visit in downtown selma.

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    interpretive center

    by doug48 Updated Aug 14, 2010

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    lowndes county interpretive center

    most visitors to selma come to tour the selma to montgomery national historic trail. the lowndes county interpretive center is a good first stop to get information and maps of the trail. for those interested in 1960's civil rights history the interpretive center is a must see spot in the selma area.

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    Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail

    by calcaf38 Updated Aug 7, 2010

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    The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail was established by Congress in 1996 to commemorate the events, people, and route of the 1965 Voting Rights March in Alabama.

    This is a lovely country road most of the way, belying its dramatic role in the history of justice. The starting point is the Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Selma. Of course, it passes the Pettus Bridge. The areas where the marchers stayed overnight are clearly marked. The Lowndes County Interpretive Center, at the midway point, is a fantastic resource. Easy to miss (but most moving) is the memorial to Viola Liuzzo, the Michigan wife and mother who dropped everything to go help with the march and was slain by the KKK. The terminus is the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery.

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    Lowndes County Interpretive Center

    by calcaf38 Updated Aug 7, 2010

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    How can you build a museum with this mouthful of a name and expect anyone to come visit? This is a downright shame because the LCIC is the best Civil Rights museum of the ones I visited. Like the others, it starts with a movie to set the origins of the event, followed by an exhibit.

    This is the only place where you are made aware that the segregationists didn't vanish in a puff of smoke in 1965. The movie contains remarks from a well dressed, articulate blonde lady of today, who spouts out racist nonsense that chills your blood.

    Another haunting vision is a photo of poor black sharecroppers watching the marchers go by their shack. The marchers have that 60s look we know well from documentaries about the movement, but the sharecroppers could have been photographed in 1880 Congo.

    You cannot skip this museum if you are interested in this chapter in history.

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    Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church

    by calcaf38 Updated Aug 7, 2010

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    At first glance, nothing distinguishes this Church which stands at the edge of a housing project. Yet it is from here that the movement started which would hasten the end of the worst injustice in the history of our country.

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    Temple Mishkan Israel

    by calcaf38 Updated Aug 7, 2010

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    I stumbled upon this synagogue after picking up bottled water at a Rite-Aid. According to the historical marker nearby, three of Selma's mayors in the early Twentieth Century were Jews. I wouldn't have imagined there were three Jews in Selma - ever!

    I found an interesting video on Youtube exploring the complex feelings of elderly Selma Jews as they recollect the turbulent years, especially how they didn't always appreciate the enthusiastic participation of (more modern) Northern Jews in the Civil Rights movement.

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    Historic Water Avenue District

    by calcaf38 Written Aug 7, 2010

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    This is a rundown but characterful neighborhood of old warehouses near the river, definitely worth a stroll. When I was there, it was as empty as if a neutron bomb had gone off the day before. Come to think of it, that was true of so many places in the South!

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    Edmund Pettus Bridge

    by calcaf38 Updated Aug 7, 2010

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    This unique looking bridge was the location for the brutally aborted first march on Montgomery, for the symbolic second march, and for the start of the heroic third march - all within March of 1965. Edmund Pettus was a confederate general and U.S. Senator. The bridge was completed in 1940 and it carries U.S. Route 80 over the Alabama River.

    The bridge is easy to access from either end, and you can cross it by foot. You can even step into the traffic to take pictures without risking your life.

    See the travelogue and the videos to discover my obsession with the Pettus Bridge.

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