Visiting Selma, Alabama was very special for me! The city is best known for the 1960's Selma Voting Rights Movement and the "Selma to Montgomery" marches. Aside from that, it was there that a young John Lewis and activist Hosea Williams and others attempted a "Selma to Montgomery" march only to be confronted by county sheriff deputies and state troopers who attacked them using tear gas, horses and billy clubs, and drove them back across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Governor George Wallace had vowed that the march would not be permitted. Seventeen marchers were hospitalized and 50 more were treated for lesser injuries. But because of the brutal attacks, this became known as "Bloody Sunday". It was covered by national press and television news, reaching many American and International homes. I remember being a little kid watching this on television, but not really understanding what was going on. As I got older, I would hear more about "Bloody Sunday" and what the march really stood for.
When I started my travel photography, I knew this was a city that would be high on my list. Finally, my opportunity to visit Selma happened, and I was excited! And it was only fitting that this visit would fall on my 60th birthday. So out of all the birthday wishes or presents, the ONLY thing I wanted for my birthday was to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge...following in the footsteps of Dr. King, John Lewis, Hosea Williams and others. I have to admit I was a little nervous heading to Selma, only because of the "history" the city holds. But once I arrived, I felt relaxed and "at home". Driving up Broad Street, I could only imagine how Selma looked “back in the day”. What I was seeing reminded me of watching the old Andy Griffith tv shows. I parked, got out and started my “photo walk”. Some of the highlights I photographed were the Historic Tabernacle Baptist Church, Selma City Hall, a burial ground for the “Tomb Of The Unknown Slave and Unknown Soldier”, The Selma Times-Journal Building and the Selma Welcome Center. I also saw something I hadn’t seen in years…a Rexall drug store. I grew up going to Rexall drug stores, and seeing one after all these years was really wild! I captured other stores, restaurants and buildings along Broad Street as well. One of my “must see” stops was Brown A.M.E. Church, the starting point of the "Selma to Montgomery" marches.
After a brief lunch at the Downtowner Restaurant, I continued my journey. I walked past the George Washington Carver Homes Projects, made famous by Dr. King, who often dined with the residents when he was in town. I passed the Slavery and Civil War Museum, the old St. James Hotel, Historic Water Avenue and Selma Police Department. When I got to Water Avenue at Broad Street, I read the Alabama Historic marker explaining the “Bloody Sunday” attack on the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As I approached the bridge, I felt a little intimidated but maintained control and began my birthday walk across the bridge as planned. I stopped at times and took a few photos, but to commemorate the event I also recorded the walk on my cell phone. As I was walking, I couldn’t help but remember all the activity that played out on this very same bridge back in March of 1965 (I was just 6 years old). So I kept repeating the names of John Lewis, Hosea Williams and others over and over as I walked. I also noticed other people, solo and groups walking across the bridge as well. Some praying and others stopping just to take it all in. Once at the end of the bridge, I crossed over to the other side to continue my walk across this infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge. From there I headed back to my car, gathered myself and smiling from ear-to-ear, headed on my way to Birmingham for more history.