Sunday, May 24, 2009

Highs and Lows in Alabama

I was working lots of hours while in Selma, Alabama. I was tired having already been out on the road for three weeks...but my spirit grew more tired while staying here. I sensed unrest in the community, lots of poverty around me. While here in the area I met some great people, dedicated staff, and saw lots of beautiful little children. Jim emailed me that week and told me that Selma was the Butterfly Capital of Alabama. While my friends and I decided to head down town...I saw all the butterflies around town. Seeing something like butterflies, the art, something creative and colorful, my spirits had been lifted.

A little factoid.....
Butterfly Capital - Selma, Alabama
In 1989, the Alabama State Legislature designated Selma the "Butterfly Capital of Alabama." The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is Alabama's butterfly mascot.
In October, 2008, the Dallas County Arts Alliance in cooperation with the City and local businesses commissioned more than 40 butterfly sculptures placed throughout Downtown Selma.
After we visited the National Voting Museum, we walked to the edge of the road and looked at the bridge. It was a pretty heavy moment to think of all that occured there. While I was there for the week, I sensed still much "unrest" in this community.... people still not accepting the differences of each other. A discussion with a friend while there made us realize that hate, anger, unforgiveness, prejudice, selfishness has no color....that these emotions don't care what color as long as they can live long in the hearts of all men and women.

Brief History from:

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.

We visited the the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute which is not far from the bridge. The museum states that it "strives to remind the world of the struggle that took place in order for all Americans to have the right to vote, regardless of race, education or wealth". Quote from museum literature.

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