Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day Four: Selma

Today was intense. We had to be on the bus at 6:45 in the morning for the trip from Montgomery to Selma, Alabama. Selma’s history and current social state is overwhelming. Our tour guide Miss Joanne Bland was and to this very day is a freedom fighter. That decision was made for her when she was 8 yrs old…and was arrested for the first time. By the time she was 11 yrs of age she had been arrested 13 times and had given more to the battle for justice than most people (particularly the generations following the civil rights movements that enjoy such freedom people died for so inauspiciously) will their entire lives. She is walking history and I can’t help but think to give a big shout out to my guys Manuel Colon, Enrique Guerrero and Octavio Patino (including a lot more fellow University of Illinois students) that are making their own history and strives to equity by marching on Washington, D.C. for immigration reform. Now back to Miss bland, this woman was great and could tell first hand stories of the brutality African Americans faced when they organized in Selma wanting to march 54 miles to Montgomery. She shared her terrifying stories of beatings that brought tears to my eyes. This woman is truly remarkable. Aside from her personal experience she was holistically knowledgeable of Selma’s history. We paid a visit to the cemetery and to my horror found ourselves face to face with a 40 ft. monument to Robert E. Lee and a not-so-modest-bust in honor of ‘the defender of Selma” Nathan Bedford Forrest, a founding father of the Ku Klux Klan (who in one Civil War battle buried African Americans alive). I swear had I the means those two shrines to violent white supremacy would have come down, that’s how emotional I was. We then had the great honor to march the same march activists took over the Selma bridge and walk in the footsteps of the brave souls (who face firehouses, police dogs and police violence) before us. Today made me angry but it further incensed me and imbued the fact that the struggle must continue and the dream has yet to be realized…

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