“Truth crushed to earth will rise again.”

Today was a very full day, in more ways than one…specifically in regards to the intake of knowledge and the intake of multiple soul food buffets!  The highlights of the day are as follows:

– Lowndes County Interpretive Center

– Meeting Rev. Frederick Douglass Reese

– Lunch and tour with Mrs. Joanne Bland Perry County Jail

~ Jimmy Lee Jackson Gravesite

~ Tour of Selma, AL

~ Walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge

– National Voting Rights Museum & Institute

– Viola Liuzzo Memorial

Perry County Jail

Visiting the Perry County Jailhouse in Marion, AL

Crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge

Our group walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge

The National Voting Rights Museum & Institute

The National Voting Rights Museum & Institute

At our first stop, the Lowndes County Interpretive Center, I heard of “Tent Cities” for the first time.  Where the center is now located a group of sharecroppers set up tents for the families to live in after they were forced off of the lands of plantation owners for attempting to register to vote.  Conditions were not good; whites would take shots at the city on their way by sometimes, and there was one story of a young teenage woman who bled out after giving birth because she had no way of getting sufficient medical attention.  All for simply attempting to register to vote.

Our next stop was one of my favorite speakers on the trip thus far: Rev. Frederick Douglass Reese.  Rev. Reese was the president of the Dallas County Voters’ League and was a prominent leader on many fronts in the movement in Selma.  He was also instrumental in bringing Dr. King to Selma to help with the movement there.  His message held a fairly encouraging tone to it, emphasizing that one can never know what kind of an effect they are having on others, and that for this reason they should always be aware of what kind of example they are setting and to make sure that it is the right one.

Richard and Dr. Reese

Richard and Rev. Reese

Reverend Frederick Douglass Reese

Look familiar?

“Who wants to buy me that house?”

For lunch we stopped at a spot called “Essie’s” where we had some more Southern cooking…namely a very filling and satisfying soul food feast. During this time we met Mrs. Joanne Bland, who runs a program (for lack of a better term) called “Journey’s for the Soul.” You can check the link on the Links page.

She spoke to us of her experiences.  How she lost her mother at a young age because she wasn’t permitted to have a needed blood transfusion with “white blood.”  How she and her sister were among those attacked on “Bloody Sunday” while trying to march from Selma to Montgomery.  To this point our group had not heard much more than the official and documentary accounts of this march, so hearing the details first-hand made it that much more real and painful to hear.

From Essie’s, Mrs. Bland guided us through Marion, AL, where we saw the Perry County Courthouse, jail, and the Zion United Methodist Church.  It was here that a mass meeting and a night march took place that cost Jimmie Lee Jackson his life while trying to protect his mother and grandfather from an trooper’s attack.  We were able to see his gravestone, which disturbingly is sometimes used for target practice by locals who drive by the site.  There were numerous marks and chips from bullets that were visible on the stone.

We then returned to Selma where Mrs. Bland gave us a riding tour of the area.  She showed us several locations and along the way pointed out several impressive houses which she offered to let us buy for her. 🙂

The high point of this tour for me was when we exited the bus and walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge…a simple and exciting exercise for our group but one that cost people dearly on March 7, 1965.

Crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge

Crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge

Once we had crossed we thanked Mrs. Bland and said goodbye and entered the National Voting Rights Museum & Institute.  While there were a number of excellent displays, the museum was actually undergoing a bit of a transformation.  Based on what we saw today it appears as though the finished product is going to be well-worth a visit.  It will be exciting to see.

Our last stop came along the highway back to Montgomery: the memorial for Mrs. Viola Liuzzo, a Michigan woman who was so moved by the television reports that she saw of Bloody Sunday that she left for Selma to help with the third march.  While there, she was murdered by the Klan while transporting marchers between Selma and Montgomery.

Viola Liuzzo Memorial

Viola Liuzzo Memorial

One of the sad things about this story is that Mrs. Liuzzo’s reputation and character were destroyed by rumors from the Klan and the FBI.  Her children only found out the truth about their mother in recent years.  Additionally, a fence was put up around the memorial because of vandalism problems.

A significant theme that I have noticed during this trip thus far is that there is so much that I have not heard; so many inspiring and yet equally horrifying and frustrating stories that have been buried or overlooked.


I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long because “truth crushed to earth will rise again”.

– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Our God Is Marching On”

from the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery Alabama  on March 25th, 1965

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