Day 4:The journey to Selma by Marcelle Giovannetti 

June 14th, 2018

This day engulfed me with the heaviness of grief for all the many lives lost in the freedom struggle. We began day 4 at the Rosa Parks Museum and I learned of the many others (and women before her) who would not give up their seat in non-violent protest against injustice.  I began to see how school desegregation, sit-ins, the bus boycott, voting rights, freedom marches and freedom riders were all chiseling away at forces that opposed the God given right of every human to be treated with dignity and respect.

The bus journey to Lowndes County Interpretive Center was the same path marched on foot, over days, by some of the most courageous people of our time as it traced the route of the freedom march from Selma to Montgomery.

    Here I learned about the ridiculous questions  Black people were asked during voter registration like “how many bubbles will this bar of soap produce?” . I also learned about tent city that served as a place of refuge for crop sharers when they got evicted from white-owned land when they voiced their desire to vote.  I was immediately pulled into the reality of our current headlines as the term  “tent cities” is now being proposed to house immigrant children, which begs the question: how far have we really come in this freedom struggle? 

We spent the afternoon in Selma where I met the unforgettable Miss Joanne Bland who whipped a group of 50 adults into line like it was child’s play! She is extraordinary and her resilient spirit tireless. She introduced the group to the pure joy of a eating a dripping ripe southern peach. She also shared her firsthand account of marching as a young girl across the Edmund Pettus bridge. “I can still remember the screams” she said…I listened, looking out of the window, staring at the very bridge where it happened.  I was moved to tears marching across that bridge in the footsteps of so many who were brutally beaten on Bloody Sunday then hunted relentlessly and pursued back into town. The barbaric truth seemed too much to absorb. The slaughter of unarmed people peaceful standing up for their right to not be terrorized left me feeling like my grief was joining the weight of theirs,  mourning in solidarity with every generation of freedom fighters I have learned about.

I was struck by the reminents of wreckage still visible in Selma. The dissonance between the “haves and the have nots” still clearly visible. The disparity and inequity of old that still exists but changes its shapes and morphs into present day oppression. I could see it and feel it as we drove through Selma. Joanne Bland knows it all too well, and has spent her life using her own pain as the foundational bricks that can build a better community. I found her so inspiring! Yes ma’am I did.


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