Shocked, eager, uncomfortable, numb, grateful, and inspired are the main six emotions to describe my first day in Selma, Alabama. To firsthand witness segregation and extreme poverty in person is what brought on these simple yet strong emotions. When groups like “Black Lives Matter” or any group trying to acknowledge a racial issue, you’ll see some of the blog websites and news stations saying stuff like, “this group is dividing our country” or “your beliefs are what causes division.” NEWS FLASH: There are actual parts of our country that are segregated AND have been segregated. You can’t do something that is already done. We also should not speak on subjects we are ignorant and uneducated about. Watching and actually Selma are two TOTALLY DIFFERENT things. It is absolutely mind-boggling on the impact of visiting Selma in person.
On the other hand, there are people who are trying to unite our country here in Selma. There are parents who have sacrificed their jobs, time, and effort to be a helping hand in the community. There are also the kids of these parents who have stories of what they’ve been through for doing what is humanely right that are breathtaking and inspirational. THIS is what exactly MLK fought for, just like him they are fighting the injustices and inequalities of America, I am bless to have this opportunity to have been able to witness what I miss and experienced what I am experiencing.
At first glance Selma, Alabama looks like any other small town. Perhaps a little forgotten and quiet but after spending time with some of it residents there is so much more to discover. Coming from living in such highly populated and diversified cities, such as that of New York City and Raleigh, I never imagine that the words “racism” and specially “segregation” truly existed anymore. After hearing some of the stories the volunteers of the Freedom Fighters shared with us along with the cold hard facts of the history of Selma I learned that to this day Selma schools were indeed segregated primarily due to income and choice. Several white families did not want to be integrated and believe this action would taint their culture and heritage and as such they pulled their kids out of the public school system and created their own all-white private schools. To make matters worst there is an all-white country club that requires members to provide a picture and family heritage when applying, thus the board members can easily identify and deny membership to all African-American and minorities. The list goes on and on such as the monument dedicated to the confederate flag and Nathan Bedford, the founder of the Ku Klux Klan; the division of the town into West, the White and rich, and the East, the African-Americans and the poor; and the migration of 10,000 white individuals out of Selma due to their inability to accept having, for the first time ever, a black City Mayor.
This day was filled with so many emotions and disbeliefs, mainly because I could not understand how one kind of individual could hate another due to their skin color. Although today was very saddening I still have hope for I know there are hundreds of people that believe Selma can change and progress for the better, and this situation is only a temporary setback.
Dang yo, where do I start? This whole day has been a roller coaster of emotions, experiences, and just down right fun. I was a first time flier so that was pretty cool. The drive wasn’t too bad. the real shocker was when we crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. It really was like stepping back in time. It’s almost as if this town froze in time and nothing changed (except for the cars lol). One of the things that really struck me was how much segregation there still is and how many people’s mindset was still not changed after all these years. The death threats were the most disturbing news to me because I thought people had left all that negativity back in the 60’s but unfortunately that was not the case. It was also amazing to tour Selma and get to learn about the many different historical property whether it belonged to a brigadier general of the confederate army or just a racist politician. It was really cool to see some of the historical landscapes that were portrayed in the movie actually in real life. The most impactful place was Brown Chapel A.M.E church where Dr. King used to preach for peace and equality because you really get a feel of how it would have been like at the time. My favorite part was the freedom cafe. It may be located in a church basement, but it is such a safe haven for any and everybody and you can truly feel it. Everyone is your friend there no matter what shape or color you are. And let’s not forget those turkey and cheese thingies were the bomb. I feel as if my eyes have already been opened up and this is just as a result of the first day. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week holds in store for us.