Sunday, March 8, 2015. The first day of Day Light Saving’s Time for 2015. Five in the morning and we’re headed to Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Selma. I’m tired, perhaps even sleepy, but I can’t sleep. My mind is all over the place. I was born in Selma almost 52 years ago. What will this day entail? What emotions will be evoked? It was a picture perfect day, 75 degrees, and not a cloud in the sky. It has been estimated that 80,000 people crossed the Bridge, Sunday; Foxx said he thinks it was closer to 100,000. We stopped by to see my parents and my youngest sister, Anita, before proceeding to the march. My parents, both in their 80’s, with limited mobility, not chair-bound, but unable to maneuver easily in such an enormous crowd, decided they would not go. I watched them as they watched the Brown Chapel Church service on TV. I wondered what they were feeling, thinking and hoping for. My dad’s hearing is impaired; my mom takes longer to process information, so the three of us sat, quietly, each lost in our own thoughts, I suppose.
I immediately knew we were in a small-town southern city, as the shuttle driver was very polite, accommodating, and informed. The passengers boarding were equally as friendly. Of course, people had come from all over, but there was a sense of one-ness in the air. I’d never seen that many people in Selma! The city looked vibrant and thriving….if only for the weekend. One of the white churches (yes, the churches in Selma are still very much segregated) opened its doors so the crowd could use their lavatories; they also provided free beverages! As we were approaching our meeting place to walk across the Bridge, I started to envision what it was like those 50 years ago. Specifically, what it was like for my parents. My dad didn’t participate; my mom couldn’t participate; she had five children under the age of six. As I stood waiting to cross, I wondered how they would’ve fared had they gone. I looked around at the massive crowd, and every ethnic group seemed to have been represented. People of all ages, abilities and disabilities. There ‘appeared’ to be more people of color in attendance. There were some whom I ‘assumed’ were same-sex couples. I suppose they were marching in the name of civil rights for all. It was a joy to see so many young people out; each wearing emblazoned t-shirts with some sort of empowerment statement. My favorite read: “My mind is my lethal weapon. I THINK, therefore………I Am DANGEROUS.”
Going across the Bridge was a breeze. I imagined my parents on either side of me, holding my hands. My grandparents and great grandparents and my lineage, in general, all watching over me, us; smiling, encouraging us to keep fighting the good fight. I felt a heaviness come over me. Yes, it was hot, yes I’m rather physically Unfit, but it was a heaviness of the heart. Almost as if my soul wanted to cry out; tears of joy, initially, then tears of sorrow. Sorrow for what my people endured and even more grief for what we’re STILL enduring. I joined in with other marchers, as we sang songs and repeated chants. It reminded me of the metered singing that’s still prevalent in Primitive Baptist churches today. I felt transported to a different time. Foxx commented in wonderment all the different groups of people from varied backgrounds and racial lines….and how we ALL came from Adam & Eve. Amazing! As we crossed back over the Bridge, the crowd had multiplied ten-fold. It seemed hotter, perhaps it was, and I imagined jumping….only briefly. The water was horrid and did I mention….I can’t swim. Yes, a fleeting thought at best. I wondered, again, what my fellow marchers were thinking. Were they simply wanting to exit the bridge, ASAP, or were they taking in the moment for all that it represented? As we made the five-hour drive back to Louisiana, I was still processing the events of the day. I was able to share the moment with Foxx, my oldest sister, Angela, my brother-in-law, Sam and my sister-in-law, Tina. A friend said to me “Every black person in America should be in Selma.” I tend to agree. It was hot; it was crowded, but there was also something sacred about the moment for me. A moment I’ll cherish forever.
As I finally decompressed, not 12 hours later I learned that the KKK was in Selma distributing their propaganda. And less than 24-hours later, Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity (University of Oklahoma) was recorded singing a very racist song. We have a long way to go. Still we RISE! And so I’ll leave you with quotes from Angela and Foxx about what the commemoration means to them, which sum up my sentiments. “This symbolizes part of history. It’s an opportunity for me to engage in a movement that created an opportunity for us to be more inclusive in the American dream, specifically as it relates to voting. I realize recently the Supreme Court shot down a portion of it, but it allows me to prepare myself both physically and mentally to mobilize family and friends to write their senators and congressmen so we can re-right the ship again.” JSF III “This commemoration means I’m glad to be alive. I’m pleased to able to walk the streets of Selma and not worry about being hit with a billy club. I’m so very grateful to the people who risked so much to make sure we could all register to vote, unencumbered and that was not easy for anyone to do. They could’ve lost their lives, family members’ lives, jobs, what have you. I’m very appreciative, and the very least I could do is to commemorate it by coming back to my hometown for the celebration.” Angela Pearson
Celeste Fox is a freelance editor with over 15 years of experience editing books, novels, dissertations, and websites. She has a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Alabama. Growing up with a mother who taught English and a father who encouraged reading, Celeste developed a passion for words and prose. Celeste is an avid reader who believes to be a successful editor one must enjoy the written word. Celeste is married to the love of her life, Jimmy Fox; they currently reside in Tennessee.
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