Selma Alabama – A History Road Trip

Lynn is going out of her mind from boredom.  Over a normal three month period she has lots of sporting events, at least 9 meetings with buddies at a bar, weekly Mass, her weekly prayer group meeting, three crafty-classes, and usually a major vacation somewhere.

During the Wuhan Flu quarantine Lynn has had nothing.  Lynn has always been easily bored, and this is reaching epic proportions.

So last Sunday we took a road trip to Selma Alabama to see the Edmund Pettis Bridge and the route taken by the voting rights marchers way back in 1965.  We were small children in North Carolina and have no direct memory of the events when they happened.  This was the last major location of the civil rights struggle in Alabama that we had not visited.  Although there are several museums along the route – they were all closed due to the virus. Selma march

The Edmund Pettis Bridge over the Alabama River in Selma was where fire hoses and dogs were released on civil rights marchers attempting to secure the right to vote. These happened when I was 3 years old – so I have no living memory of it.

We drove to Montgomery and took US Highway 80 to Selma.  This was the march route.  Highway 80 is a divided US highway – as good of a US highway you get short of an interstate. There are markers and various (closed) museums along the route. Historic Route Sign

You can read more about it at:
https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/selma-montgomery-march

The bridge is pretty much exactly as it was back in 1965.

There is a US Park Service information building at the foot of the bridge. It is normally closed on Sundays and has been closed due to the Corona Virus for the foreseeable future. NPS On Street

The Azaleas are past their peek bloom in Central and South Alabama. But there was a nice planting that stays mostly in the shade that was very pretty at the foot of the bridge. Selma Azelas

Selma is now a economic wasteland. It was originally an old railroad town, shopping area for several counties, and a spot of local manufacturing. Today almost all of downtown Selma is boarded up buildings for sale.

Selma’s downtown is similar to many small old railroad station towns throughout the South and Midwest. We have driven extensively on both the main and back roads in the South and the Midwest.  But our driving in the rural Northeast and rural West has mostly been Interstate Highways – so I don’t know if economically devastated railroad towns are common there.  Interstate Highways bypass almost all small towns.

Once a year during the anniversary of the voting rights march swarms of national, state and local politicians swoop in for a brief march and photo opportunity. Then they all leave town as quickly as possible.

This year many of the Dem presidential candidates still in the race before Super Tuesday made a brief appearance – then fled because they (correctly) thought Biden had the votes to win Alabama.

Interstates 85 and 65 were mostly empty.  Highway 80 was almost totally empty.  Excepting one small church, all of the churches had empty parking lots on Sunday morning due to the quarantine.  Normal Sunday morning road traffic in rural Alabama is mostly people going to church or to visit friends and family.

Previously we have visited the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham across the street from where Klansmen bombed the church murdering 4 little girls. That museum is one of the most chilling places I’ve ever visited since it documented the many lynching’s (race murders) which occurred in Alabama.

We have also visited the State Capital grounds in Montgomery which is an interesting location. You have the marker where Jefferson Davis took the oath of office for the Presidency of the Confederacy looking across to the First White House of the Confederacy. At the foot of the hill (called Goat Hill) is the small Baptist Church where Martin Luther King preached.  You can easily see all of this from the same spot.

Since we have yet another month of quarantine – I may go to Montgomery and snap more photos of the historic sites there from the outside

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