After speaking this morning with CNN executives and pitching our group’s idea for our broadcast package, I was told that I would be live on CNN today on their 2 p.m. show (East Coast time, which would be 11 a.m. West Coast time) with Kyra Phillips.
Night and morning.
View of Edmund Pettus Bridge. Taken by Kachet Jackson-Henderson
By Kachet Jackson-Henderson
Our time in Selma was limited. We did not get a chance to visit the National Voting Rights Museum, but we did get a chance to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. I will admit that I was chicken and could not reach the end of the bridge. The wind was blowing so hard, the sidewalk was narrow, and the guardrails were at my waist, and I was terrified. The experience itself overwhelmed me and so did the elements, and I am kind of beating myself up over it now. I wish I would’ve made it to the other end of the bridge. I got to the arc of the bridge, right where State Troopers used force against marchers on ”Bloody Sunday.” I did not memorialize the place where there was bloodshed and the events that were a major step in getting blacks the right to vote, which made it possible for me to cast my ballot for Barack Obama this past November. However, I’m trying to become satisfied with my acknowledgment of such significant events alone. We took the “Historic Route” from Selma to Montgomery and the whole ride I kept thinking about those that traveled it back in the 60′s. We were all cramped in our van, but I thought about those protesters who were cramped in cars, going back and forth between the two cities, fearing for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Laying everything on the line for the simple right of casting a ballot. It made me so mad that this past election a few of my friends did not vote. It didn’t even matter to me who they were going to vote for, but it bothered me that they weren’t going to execute their right to vote! Black people, at that! “Oh, I forgot to register,” was the common excuse I got. I think that this election has changed the perspectives of many, those Republican and Democrat, and that from now on a lot of things in our country will be different. That is part of the reason I applied for this trip. I made it a point to register to vote, and I even got dressed up on Election Day. I was proud to walk in that office and get my ballot. And even though I called my grandmother immediately after voting on November 4, I gave my “I Voted!” sticker to her once I went back home to Sacramento. I felt that she was entitled to it.
Montgomery is a pretty city, at least what I saw of it was. I think Justin Perry referred to it as a “baby Frisco,” because of its hilly terrain. We made a visit to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and can I just say that you cannot visit the South without making your way over there. There is a Civil Rights Movement Center and it is absolutely beautiful. I was just in awe, and I just stood there, looking at the walls for a few moments before I could even begin to take pictures. I was very proud that they chose to make plaques for those that were “Martyrs of the Movement,” but did not have a picture. They deserve acknowledgement despite their families ability to supply a picture, which according to Lecia J. Brooks, director of the center said was ” a big deal,” back in the day since portraits were expensive. I was very impressed by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s persistence in constantly seeking the truth. I noticed a lot of similarities between Jerry Mitchell and Lecia Brooks’ personal views on bringing those involved in hate crimes to justice. We were all able to electronically sign our name on the “Wall of Tolerance” before leaving, which “records the names of people who have pledged to take a stand against hate, injustice, and intolerance.” You don’t have to wonder…of course I signed my name! We are now in Birmingham. Looking forward to going to Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, and the people we will encounter. Ta-ta for now!
Peace and Love,
As we walked across the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge, I reflected on the events that happened there 44 years prior. Staring off into the Alabama River that runs below the bridge, I came across Richard Perry, a 55-year-old black man who participated in the peaceful march following Bloody Sunday. As the world learned of the horrible event, thousands of people from all over, many being college students, quickly responded to Dr. King’s call for peaceful demonstration through another attempt to cross the bridge to Montgomery.
Richard Perry and Angela walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, location of "Bloody Sunday" that happened on March 7, 1965. Photo credit Bianca De Castro
At 11-years-old, Perry’s father encouraged him to go attend the marches and be as involved in the movement as he was. “My father was very active in the movement”. His father actively participated in marches and attended local NAACP and SNCC meetings. His father was also very aware of the dangers involved with participating in those marches. “I was not allowed to participate in the march on Bloody Sunday. My father knew that the police would not allow the marchers to proceed“. Perry went on to say that he believed the tragic events happened on that Sunday as an attempt to manifest Birmingham Police sheriff Wilson Baker’s “master plan”. That plan was to keep blacks from voting.
On the current racial climate in Selma, AL Perry believes that it has improved quite a bit. “People have gotten past those events, but they have not forgotten them.”
Angela interviewing Richard Perry on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Photo credit Bianca De Castro
Speaking with Mr. Perry was very enlightening and heart warming. When I asked if I could use his name, he was more than happy to do so. It is quite refreshing to know that the people whose efforts weren’t placed in the history books are just as important as the individuals they supported.
Peace and Blessings,
Angela A. Hughes