Thursday, December 13, 2012

Montgomery and Selma, Alabama


Wed, Dec. 5th - Tue, Dec. 11th 

An interesting Christmas wreath made from magnolia leaves, cotton bolls and holly, all of which are grown here.







Alabama Supreme Court building. 









Across the street is a memorial plaza dedicated to all of their past justices. 








A side view of the State Capitol taken from the Archives building across the street.  All fifty of the state flags are on display here in alphabetical order.  The statue is dedicated to police officers.  In 1819, anticipating Montgomery becoming the Capitol, it's founder, Andrew Dexter, set aside "Goat Hill" on the east end of town.  The first Capitol of 1846 burned down in 1849.  This one was built in 1850.  Montgomery is the sixth location for the Capitol of Alabama which was admitted to the Union in 1819. 


Just across the street is the First White House of the Confederacy (circa 1835), with a free, self-guided tour.  The owners, the Sayre's family, were happy to move out for the honor of having the President live in their home.  The Capitol was moved to Richmond, Virginia four months later when they also seceded.    





A view of the divided parlor.  Jefferson Davis was a renowned American patriot long before the war.  He was instrumental in establishing the Smithsonian Institute, instituted the Federal Civil Service System, began the movement to construct the canal across Panama (picked out the exact spot where consteuction began), designed a cantilevered bridge to span the Potomac River, envisioned the need for transcontinental transportation and ordered surveys that later corresponded with three railroads built with government assistance.  He was Secretary of War in 1853 under Franklin Pierce and introduced several programs at West Point. 


As President of the Confederacy, he had the monumental task of forming an entire government in 90 days, creating a postal system, currency system, army, navy and constitution.  The South had very little industry and many of their harbors were blocked by Federally controlled forts.  It is one of the most amazing facts of history, that he fashioned a fighting unit that held the north at bay four long years, during which time victory was in sight on more than one occasion.  Many of their personal items are on display here.  One interesting item was a bottle of wine resting in a wine basket, that was made by ex-president Davis from grapes in his vineyard at  Beavoir, Mississippi and presented by him to William H. Ross.  I'm guessing it's probably aged long enough.  Others were a set of silver coffee cups presented to President Davis by the Sultan of Turkey and a silver chalice from which Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson took communion at Fort Hamilton.  Another was this picture of his first wife, Sarah, that he carried around with him.  She was the daughter of President Zachary Taylor and died of malaria just a few months after they were married.  His second wife donated these things.  I wonder how she felt about him carrying that picture around. 

Just next door is the Alabama Department of Archives and History.  It was built in 1940 with WPA funds.  It has a Civil Rights photographic exhibit, a war memorial room, an Alabama history room, a Native Americans of Alabama room, and a hallway gallery of portraits, including the Marquis de Lafayette, Rosa Parks, Hank Williams, Nat "King" Cole, W.C Handy, father of the blues and Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee alphabet.  The name on one of the portraits was Julius Ceasar Bonaparte Mitchell.  Wow, talk about putting pressure on a kid!   


The marble columns out front and in the lobby weigh 8,000 pounds each.  The lobby ceiling is decorated with gold-leaf floral and starburst medallions.  There are busts of famous Alabamians in the rear, including Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver.  





This is "Aunt" Kitty Knight, a former slave, painted in 1885.  The brightly colored headdress reflects two different Southern Black traditions.  In 1786 the governor of Spanish Louisiana, reacting to complaints about growing assertiveness of Creole women of color in New Orleans, issued a number of decrees intended to restrict their social mobility.  One known as the tignon (kerchief) law, required black women to wear their hair bound in a tignon as a badge of their low status in colonial society.  Creole women fought this restriction by designing and wearing eleborate, vividly colored tignons.  The practice continued into the 19th century.  It also reflects the African tradition of kente cloth, a handwoven Asante ceremonial cloth.  The pattern in Kitty's tignon appears to be a motif known as "Adwin Asa", symbolic of royalty, wealth, elegance, creative ingenuity and excellence. 


Alabama laws regarding slaves prohibited them from leaving their master's property without a "pass, letter or token" giving them authority to go and return from a certain place.  This brass collar and others like it were the "tokens" worn by William Rufus King's slaves when they were sent on business beyond the plantation.  The collars not only discouraged slaves from running away, but also protected them from being mistaken for runaways.  Wm. R. King served 34 years in the U.S. Senate.  In 1844 he was the Ambassador to France.  His diplomacy enabled the U.S. to annex Texas.  He was elected 13th vice president under Pres. Franklin Pierce.  He took the oath of office in March, 1852 in Cuba where he had gone due to ill health.  He returned to his plantation near Selma and died there in April without ever carrying out the duties of vice president.   King County where Seattle, Washington is now, was named for him in 1852 by the Oregon Territorial Legislature.  In 1986 the county was renamed to honor Martin Luther King instead.  The bill to make the change was brought up eight years in a row before it was finally passed.  



Chamber pots were common household items, not considered cherished heirlooms, and few of them survive today.  This one is particularly unusual because of the likeness of Civil War General Benjamin Butler in it.  He was known as "The Beast" or "The Monster" during the Federal occupation of New Orleans in 1862.  His administration was corrupt, cruel, vulgar and repressive.  He issued an order directed at women who had been impolite to his officers .  The female population was so insulted, they had his likeness placed in chamber pots as an expression of contempt. 


Can you guess what the long, straight instrument in the lower left corner is?  It's a bone marrow spoon.  Mmm, Mmm!   Must be kind of like trying to dig the crab meat out of crab legs.







The front side of the Capitol, birthplace of the Confederate States of America.  Jefferson Davis from Mississippi was sworn in here, on the front steps, as President of the Confederate States of America on February 18, 1961.  President John Tyler's granddaughter, Letitia, raised the stars and bars (Confederate Flag) here on March 4, 1861.   In Feb. 1960 a sit-in was staged at the whites only lunch counter in the Capitol.  Governor Wallace ordered them expelled and angry Ku Klux Klansmen roamed the downtown with baseball bats striking black people at random. 


This statue on the grounds is Marion James Sims, Father of Gynecology.  He is famous for inventing urinary fistula surgery for women and the surgery instruments.  He also started the Women's Hospital in New York and traveled throughout Europe teaching his surgery methods and had several members of royalty for patients, including Empress Eugenie of France.  However, when I read up on him, I discovered that he practiced his surgery experiments on slaves for their owners.  He eventually purchased several slaves on whom he did the surgery repeatedly, as many as 30 times, having them held down and using no anesthetics, as he believed negroes didn't really feel pain the way white folks did.  There are also statues of him in New York and on the South Carolina Capitol grounds.  


Double two-story, spiral staircase at the entrance of the Capitol. 

















The dome with 1920s murals illustrating Alabama's history.  They were painted on canvas and attached to the wall. 











In the Senate Chambers the Ordinance of Secession which withdrew Alabama from the Union of Sovereign States was passed January 11, 1861. 







In the House of Representatives the Confederate States of America was organized on February 4, 1861. 








One of the largest Confederate Monuments we have seen anywhere is on the Capitol grounds.  It commemorates the 122,000 Alabamians who fought during the Civil War.  On each corner is one of the four Confederate flags.  The corner stone was placed by Jefferson Davis in 1886. 









The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church started in 1877, was the first and only parish of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He took the place of civil rights activist, Rev. Vernon Johns, who the congregation felt was too outspoken!  It is one block from the Capitol where Alabama seceded and inaugurated the President of the Confederacy.  It became the headquarters of the Montgomery city bus boycott when Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat for a white man.  They have a very good $5.00 tour with a movie in the basement and a mural showing all the events of Dr. King's life as a Civil Rights leader.  There is a 1994 movie "The Vernon Johns Story" starring James Earl Jones.  Claudine Parker was a member of this church and a downtown tourism organizer.  She was killed by the D.C. snipers as they were traveling through the area.


The pews are the original pews from 1889, very scuffed up and worn, and the cushions have been added recently.  The baptismal well is underneath the pulpit, which has to be moved, so it can be filled when baptisms take place. 






About six blocks south is the 1912 parsonage where the Kings lived from 1954 to 1960.  There's still a chunk missing from the concrete on the front porch where the bomb that someone threw at the house went off, shattering windows while Mrs. King was at home with baby Yolanda and a friend from the church.  It's bigger than it looks with two front parlors, dining room, two bedrooms and a study in the back that was added on for Dr. King, so he could spend more time with his family.  With all the church activities, plus organizing activities for the movement, he was gone till late hours.  After the bombing there were flood lights in the front yard and neighbors and church members patrolled the area, as police were uninterested.  He received up to 40 phone calls a day threatening to kill him or his family or blow up his house.  In the back yard is the King-Johns Reflection Garden.  Three houses down is the Harris house, where the Freedom Riders stayed after they were beaten at the Greyhound bus stop when they arrived in town.  The National Guard escorted them back to the bus station to continue their ride to Jackson, Mississippi.  Mr. Harris had a pharmacy downtown and directed the car pools used during the boycott with a headset, while he handed out prescriptions.  Harris was the grandson of Senator John W. Jones, who was a County Senator during Reconstruction and Captain of the 99th Squadron of the Tuskegee Airmen during WWII.  The senator lived across the street in this Centennial Hill neighborhood that was home to many black professionals in the 1870s.  Mrs. Harris still lives there and was sitting on the front porch before we arrived.  Dr. King did not usually ride the bus, but on the first day after the 381 day boycott, he got on the bus at the corner of his block and rode with everyone else. 

The Ben Moore Hotel at the end of the block was built by one of the Dexter Avenue church members and was the first hotel for blacks in the city.  Many civil rights meetings took place here.  Dr. King used to get his hair cut at the barber shop there and the barber is still cutting hair there.  It is the only business left in the hotel.  The first elderly lady we met at the parsonage museum said she had a lady come in one day and told her that her father was one of the officers who arrested Rosa Parks.  It was very hard for the lady to tell her that, so the museum lady hugged her and told her that all this happened so they could become friends and they did and had their picture taken together.  She later brought her father to visit the museum, and we could see how much she enjoyed showing the picture and sharing her the story.  The other lady who took us through the house was a young married lady in the church at the time the Kings lived here.  She knew them well and visited the house often as a member of the Young Matrons Club of the church.  An excellent first-hand tour.  They have been open over nine years and they said we were their first visitors from South Dakota.  

The graves of Hank Williams, Sr. and his first wife, Audrey (parents of Hank, Jr. and his sister, Lycretia) at Old Oakwood Cemetery are a tourist attraction, that look like Jr. must have invested a little money in.  There are several extended family graves just to the right.  There is a nice little Hank Williams Museum downtown, but it is a little over-priced at $10.00.  There is also a statue of him downtown across from the City Hall and Auditorium where his funeral was held.  About 2,750 crowded into the building and another 20,000 stood vigil outside in the cold.  Hank was determined to make it as a singer and once told a grammar school teacher, "I'll sing my songs and make more money than you ever will."  His only teacher was "Tee Tot" Rufus Payne, a black street musician who specialized in the blues.  He died a pauper and is here in an unmarked grave.  At 14 Hank formed his first band.  He won a talent show on the Montgomery radio and organized the "Drifting Cowboys".  They eventually got a spot on the "Louisisana Hay Ride" radio show that propelled him to stardom.  When he was fired from the Opry, he returned to Shreveport.    Just down the street is the Montgomery Theater (now closed) that opened in 1860.  John Wilkes Booth played there sometime that year, before he went on to kill Lincoln the next spring.  

Historic 1898 Union Station and Visitors Center location. 








Exploring the beautiful riverwalk on the Alabama River behind Union Station.  The Harriott II does river cruises.  The Harriott was the first steamboat to arrive here in 1821.  The first railroad arrived in 1840.  Cotton was King and millions of bales were shipped by steamboat to Mobile and on to the mills in England.    





If you look closely, you can see the high flood mark on the pole to the left side with the bird on top.  It was here in 1703 that Alabama Indians ambushed the first French explorers from Mobile, used as pawns by British agents in the struggle for dominion of North America.  In 1780 the last British agents recruited and drilled Creek warriors to relieve the Tories in Augusta, Georgia who were besieged by American patriots.



We hiked up to the top of the observation tower and took in the views. 







Looking back at the riverwalk and Union Station. 









Leaving the riverwalk, heading back to downtown and Dexter Avenue to watch the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Capitol and the Christmas Parade. 







View of Dexter Avenue toward the Capitol from 1885 Court Square Fountain, city icon that was built over the artesian well that was the center of commerce, of which I failed to get a picture.  Court Square is where two small towns merged to form Montgomery in 1820.  It was named for General Richard Montgomery, a Revolutionary War hero.  The Winter building on this corner is where President Davis' Secretary of War sent the telegram that started the Civil War and this is where Rosa Parks boarded "the bus".  Auctions were also held here.  Slaves of all ages were auctioned along with land and livestock.  Posters advertising the sales listed the slave's gender, age, first name (they had no last name), skills, price, complexion and owner's name.  In the 1850s able field hands brought $1,500 and skilled artisans $3,000.  In 1859 the city had seven auctioneers and four slave depots. 

This is one of many Regions Bank buildings we have seen.  They are head quartered in Birmingham.  The fountain plaza in front is part of Retirement Systems of Alabama which must have at least a dozen huge buildings here.  In 1886 Montgomery was the first city in the western hemisphere to convert an entire street railway system to electricity, fondly known as the "Lightning Route" and operated until 1936. 







After several speeches and Christmas carols by school choirs, the tree was finally lit.  They put up barracades on both sides of the street for over a mile. 






There was hardly anbody there for the entertainment and tree lighting, but there were mobs everywhere by the time the parade started.  The parade lasted an hour and forty minutes. 






This was one of my favorites with Santa and presents in the tear drop trailer. 







I wonder if Martin Luther King would be pleased to see the kind of marches that are going on in front of his church now.  There were many school groups and they were almost all black kids.  The Robert E. Lee School was once an all white school, but now appeared to be an all black school. 




Just a couple blocks from Court Square where Rosa (1913-2005) boarded the bus, is the Rosa Parks Museum (at the bus stop where she refused to give up her seat and was arrested), across the street from the historic Davis Theater, now part of Troy University.  The city bus boycott started on Dec. 5, 1955, the day of Rosa's trial.  The trial lasted 30 minutes and she was fined $14.00 for disorderly conduct.  The bus boycott went on for 381 days with some 50,000 people refusing to ride.  Rosa was a seamstress and a secretary for the NAACP.  In 1957 she moved to Detroit, Michigan for her own safety. 


Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center, designed by Maya Lin (designer of the Vietnam Wall).  There is lots of security around the law center building.  The memorial is to honor the Civil Rights Movement and all those who died, from 1954 when the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation until 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.  It has the names of forty men, women and children who gave their lives for freedom.  There is a space left between the first and last names to honor all the victims who died before and after those dates and all those whose stories are still unknown.  


A circular black granite table records the names of martyrs and chronicles the history of the movement in lines that radiate like the hands of a clock.  Water emerges from the table's center and flows evenly across the top.  On a curved black granite wall behind is engraved Dr. King's paraphrase of Amos 5:24 that he used in his "I Have a Dream" speech:  "We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."  Visitors can touch the water and see themselves in the water.  A place to appreciate how far the country has come and consider how far it has to go.


I liked this statement by Robert F. Kennedy.  As Attorney General, he was enraged when the Montgomery police escort disappeared (after they had promised the government and the FBI the riders would be protected) as the Freedom Rider's bus arrived in town and was attacked by an angry mob.  He sent 450 U.S. Marshalls.  





A story about one young man who was killed by the Ku Klux Klan and the court case that was brought against the Klan with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center. 






The types of cases they handle  explains why there is so much security around here.








The Freedom Rides Museum at the Greyhound bus stop where the Freedom Riders were attacked.   Before leaving Birmingham, the Nashville Freedom Riders wrote farewell letters and wills, knowing what they might face.  On May 20, 1961 an integrated group of 21 college students from Nashville arrived at the bus station and were met by a mob with ax handles, pipes, ropes, chains and bats.  They first atacked the reporters and smashed their cameras.  Some were badly beaten and ended up in the hospital.  Others escaped to Rev. Abernathy's First Baptist Church where a rally was going on.  A growing mob trapped about 1,500 people inside and the Federal Marshalls were losing control of the mob, until JFK called up troops from Fort Benning and the Governor finally declared martial law and sent in the National Guard to break up the mob.  Then the
Riders went to stay at the Harris home, down the street from the King home.  Among the wounded was John Lewis, future congressman, and John Seigenthaler, a noted journalist who was serving as U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy's special assistant.


A time line of the events is on the outside of the building.  Inside the tour guide explains how the building was designed to keep the the races completely segregated, while they waited for the bus.  There are interesting works of art inspired by events of the Freedom Rides.  438 riders risked their lives and freedom in different areas all over the South, many spending time in Mississippi jails.   



Right on the edge of the Alabama State University are these two historic homes.  The nearest one is Nat "King" Coles birthplace.  Next to it is the home of Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, one of the leaders of the bus boycott and the Selma to Montgomery March.  In 1957 both his home and his church were bombed.  The Alabama Stadium is right behind me.  Nat "King" Cole, one of five kids of a Baptist minister, toured the Vaudeville circuit with the "Shuffle Along Review".  He was a jazz pianist, composer and singer.  In 1939 he formed the original King Cole Trio with hits "Sweet Lorraine" and "Sweet Georgia Brown", one of my Dad's favorites.  He was the first black artist to have a hosted a radio show and in 1956 he was the first black host of a TV series.  He had records on the charts for 23 years with over 100 hits.  He won a Grammy in 1959 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989.  He is in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  He was featured on a U.S. postage stamp in 1994.  His daughter got a Grammy in 1992 for "Unforgetable", her dubbed debut with her father.  During a mixed race performance in Birmingham in 1956, several white men stormed the stage and assaulted him. 


This 1910 home just south of the University of Alabama is where F. Scott Fitzgerald lived 1932-33 with his notorious wife, Zelda, and their daughter, Francis Scott (Scottie).  Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was distantly related to the composer of "The Star-Spangled Banner".  He was author of the great American novel, "The Great Gatsby", which has been made into a movie four times, 1926, 1949, 1974 and 2012, starring Warner Baxter, Alan Ladd, Robert Redford and Leonardo Dicaprio.  He wrote several other novels, short stories (including humorous "Pat Hobby" series) and did screenwriting in Hollywood, including "Red-Headed Woman" starring Jean Harlow.  Zelda's father is (youngest ever) Alabama Supreme Court Justice Sayre (of the Sayre family whose home Jefferson Davis occupied).  Her mother was known as the "Wild Lily" of Kentucky.  Zelda enjoyed doing outrageous things that shocked people.  She also wrote short stories, plays, the novel, "Save Me the Waltz" (about "Jefferson" aka Montgomery) and was a talented painter.  They led a lavish lifestyle traveling all over Europe, but she had mental problems (schizophrenia) and spent much of her time in sanitoriums.  They were referred to as those "Jazz Age darlings", the "novelist and the novelty".  She was known as the original "Flapper Girl".  Their granddaughter wrote the novel "The Naked Hitch Hiker".  Perhaps the mental illness was heriditary.  Tennessee Williams' last play, "Clothes for a Summer Hotel" is about the Fitzgeralds. 


Moton Field built in 1941 by the Tuskegee Institute to provide primary flight training for the nation's first African American pilots.  It was named for Robert Moton, the second president of Tuskegee.  By the end of WWII almost 1,000 had earned their wings.  They completed over 1,500 missions, destroyed over 260 enemy aircraft (112 in the air), sank one destroyer and demolished many enemy installations.  Their extraordinary contributions to the Allied victory in Europe helped pave the way for military desegregation and the civil rights movement.   To the left of the buildings are metal frames of original buildings that used to be there.  Rather than reconstructing all the original buildings, they just put up "ghost" structures to give an idea of the original layout of the area.


The rugged, dependable PT-17 "Kaydet" was the primary trainer at Moton Field.  The training planes were built mostly of wood and a special linen fabric, sealed and strengthened with several applications of highly-flammable, explosive acetate coating called "dope".  When it dried, it would shrink and be water tight. 





First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt noted that some people believed African Americans were not capable of flying planes, so she asked the head of pilot training to take her for a ride.  Her post-flight remark "Well, you can fly all right!", along with her smiling photo in the airplane provided a great boost to African American aviation.





Intelligence training, often called "war orientation", taught them to identify enemy weapons, vehicles, ships and aircraft.  This training room had airplanes hanging from the ceiling, poster on the wall with all the German uniforms and this case with models of all the different military ships. 





Cadets started with class room training on campus and then primary flight training at Moton Field.  When they passed here, they moved on to basic and advanced training at nearby Tuskegee Army Air Field.  It also provided many opportunities for black women as mechanics, truck drivers, medical staff, parachute riggers, security, etc.  Over 10,000 men and women took part.




Then we went over to Tuskegee Institute where we toured "The Oaks",  home of it's founder and first president, Booker T. Washington.  He was a former slave and founded the school in a one-room church in 1881.  The home was built by the students with bricks made on campus.  The students built many of the historical buildings, including dorms, classrooms and labs.  It was considered a major part of their skills learning.  They built the original chapel from 1896-98 with 1.2 million bricks made and laid by students. 


Booker and his school were well-known internationally and he spent more than half of each year away from home giving speeches and raising funds.   This is his office in his home just as he left it.  He brought George Washington Carver here and Carver spent the rest of his life here, inventing and discovering new uses for agricultural products like peanuts and sweet potatoes.  From peanuts alone he discovered over 300 products.  He was also a former slave. 


Quote on the statue: "He lifted the veil of ignorance from his people and pointed the way to progress through education and industry." 








Booker T. and Carver are both buried in the campus cemetery about a block from the president's home and Carver's Lab/Museum.  The president of the college decides who is buried in the Tuskegee Cemetery.  More than 8,000 people, white and colored, rich and poor, crowded in and around the chapel for Booker's funeral.   After leaving Tuskegee, we drove over to Auburn and drove around a bit.  It seemed to be a beautiful town with lots of beautiful new homes and a thriving business district.  Maybe we missed it, but we didn't see any older, run-down part of town.





We went to the Christmas Candlelight Tour at Alabama's Historic Governor's Mansion.  It has 17 rooms, was built in 1907 and was purchased by the state for $100,000 in 1950. 







School kids sitting on the grand staircase singing Christmas carols, below the French crystal chandelier that originally hung in New Orleans' Roosevelt Hotel, which opened in 1893.  The swimming pool, shaped like the state of Alabama, was added in the 1970s. 






The sun porch.  Before there was air conditioning, the cool tile or marble floors and many windows were used during hot Alabama summers. 







Included in the tour, was the house next door, also owned by the state and used for "state" functions, like receptions and "Bible study" groups.  Yup, that's what the lady said. 







The children's bedroom. 









On our way to Selma we stopped at the Lowndes County Interpretive Center.  This poster is the sort of thing that got people killed in the 1950s and 60s in the South.  When black people had the nerve to register to vote, the white people who owned the land they were share cropping on, evicted them.  Some had farmed on the old plantations as long as 30 to 60 years, being paid with plantation tokens, forcing them to shop at the plantation stores and charged interest for credit, so they never got ahead.  Lowndes County was over 80% black and none of them were registered to vote.  Whites were afraid of the 4 to 1 shift of power, if they were allowed to vote. 



Many had nowhere to go when they were evicted and some lived as long as 2 and 1/2 years in tent cities provided by the civil rights workers, while they helped them to find jobs and new housing.  During that time, locals used Tent City like a shooting gallery and came by three to four times a week shooting into the tents. 






This is the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.  On March 7, 1965 "Bloody Sunday", as the marchers reached the apex of the bridge, they saw "a sea of blue" (state troopers), waiting for them at the end of the bridge with tear gas, cattle prods and billy clubs.  The 600 marchers continued to walk and were attacked, with the Sheriff's posse joining in on horseback wielding bull whips and rubber tubing wrapped in barbed wire.  News footage shocked the nation and citizens organized sit-ins and protests at the White House and many cities across the nation.  Some came by plane and train to Selma to offer their support.   The march was originally inspired when troopers shot Jimmie Lee Jackson at point blank range at an earlier march, while he was trying to protect his mother and grandfather who were being attacked by the troopers.


Dr. King invited northern religious leaders to come to Selma for a second march on "Turnaround Tuesday".  A federal judge denied permission for the march, but Brown Chappel soon overflowed with hundreds of priests, ministers, rabbis and others.  So they marched as far as the bridge and kneeled and prayed before turning back.  Rev. James Reeb, a white man from Boston, died after being attacked by racists in the street.  The bust of Dr. King in front of Brown Chappel is captioned, "We had a Dream".  They were finally allowed to make the 54-mile, 5-day march from Selma to Montgomery in May.  Governor Wallace refused his resources to protect the marchers, leaving LBJ no choice but to put 1,900 men of the Alabama National Guard under Federal control and back them up with 2,000 U.S. Army troops, 100 FBI Agents, 100 U.S. Marshalls and helicopters flying overhead.  They started with about 4,000 people, but were required by court order to have no more than 300 when they reached Lowndes County where the four lane road changed to two lanes.  By the 4th night there were 10,000 at their campsite where the "Stars for Freedom Rally" was held with such notables as Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr, Leslie Uggums, Marlon Brando, Pete Seger, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary and many, many more.  By the time they reached the Capitol the next day, the crowd had swelled to 25,000.  Governor Wallace refused to come out and meet them or accept their petition for voting rights.  They were not even allowed on the Capitol steps, so they had to use a flat bed trailer for their speeches, singing and celebrating.  That evening Viola Liuzzo (a white mother of five from Detroit who had come down to support the march) was shot and killed in a drive by shooting as she was transporting people home to Selma.  LBJ said, "The vote is the most powerful instrument ever divised by man for breaking down injustice."  He signed the Voting Rights Act five months later.  It empowered the Federal Government to enforce the 15th Amendment from 1870, in states where it had been ignored for almost 100 years.  Alabama still did not really become integrated until 1970.  Whites parked at polling stations with their rifles on display to discourage blacks from voting.  In 1964 23% of elegible blacks in Alabama were registered to vote.  By 1998 74% were registered, while only 62% of everyone in the U.S. was registered.  In 1965 there were fewer than 100 black elected officials in the U.S.  In 1998 there were 8,936, and of all the states, Mississippi and Alabama had the highest numbers.  In 1966 Selma voted out their nasty sheriff and Macon County elected the South's first black sheriff in a century.  In 1970 Lowndes County had their first black sheriff and by 1984, 255 cities had black mayors.  A 12-year-old during the March became Selma's first black mayor in 2000, ending Joseph Smitherman's 37 year reign.


1837 St. James Hotel is just down the street from the Edmund Pettus Bridge and has one of those horse and dog fountains out front, that I wrote about in one of my earlier blogs.  




This is a view of the Pettus Bridge from Water Avenue by the hotel. Unlike Auburn, Selma appeared to be very old and run-down, homes and businesses.  They have many old buildings downtown that were built between 1830 and 1900, those that survived that campaign of Wilson's Raiders at the end of the Civil War.The old historic neighborhood of little clapboard houses from late 1800s was so slum-like, it made you wonder if you were in a safe neighborhood.  The George Washington Carver neighborhood around Brown Chapel was all identical small brick homes that looked as if they were built for returning military after WWII, many badly in need of maintainance.       








This is the Bridge Keepers House.  He was on duty 24 hours a day when the original three span bridge was here and had to open the north span for steamboats coming through. 







This river walk goes from the Bridge Keepers House to Lafayette Park in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette who visited here on his famous tour of the U.S. in 1825.  








This memorial park is at the end of the bridge where the troopers beat the marchers back, and across the road is the Civil Rights Museum. 






Wednesday we traveled to Perry, Georgia where we will spend the next week.  The weather has been in the 70s and beautiful, except for Wednesday, which was very cold.  We paid $3.07 for gas before we left Alabama. 


Over and Out, 
Tarra                        
                                                                                                     
 

1 comment:

  1. eToro is the #1 forex trading platform for novice and advanced traders.

    ReplyDelete