As I wrote in my previous post, I was in Alabama from mid-October until late November. I did not necessarily want to do, but I kind of like being in the Air Force, so I went. Alabama is not a state where I like to spend a lot of time. Actually, I do not like to spend time in the south as a whole. The food and hospitality are the highlights, but hatred is alive and well throughout the region. Being from Mississippi, I grew up around the racism, bigotry, and idiocy. Segregation was and is a thing until this day. We had two separate school systems: one for people of color and the other for white people. I never understood this dichotomy, but the lines were clearly drawn.
I made the 12 hour drive to Alabama a couple of days prior to the class start date. This meant I had to drive through some small towns after leaving Interstate 20. The road was dark and the fog had settled in. After hearing the stories about Alabama, there was no way in hell I was stopping for anything…no gas, food, or sunflower seeds. The drive from I-20 to the hotel in Montgomery was a bit less than three hours. This meant driving through Demopolis, Uniontown, Whitehall, and Selma to name a few of the towns.
Since I was going through Selma, I made it my mission to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The Edmund Pettus Bridge is the location of one of the worst attacks during the Civil Rights movement. On Sunday March 7, 1965, Civil Rights demonstrators attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery to address the disparity between whites and minorities. They were met with a brutal attack at the hands of the local sheriff’s office and state troopers, as well as white males who were deputized earlier in the day. People were beaten, some to the point of losing consciousness. The events of the day would come to be known as “Bloody Sunday”.
I arrived at the bridge just before 9pm on October 13th. The feeling that overcame my body was indescribable. I had chills all over my body and even started to cry a bit because of significance of the location. There were some pictures taken, but they did not turn out well due to the inclement weather. I did not make it back to Selma during my six weeks in Montgomery. It was not until the day the course ended, I decided to drive through Selma again…I needed to see the bridge during the day. As you can see in the short video below, the Edmund Pettus Bridge is not much of a looker, but courageous men and women fought for the betterment of the country at the location.
My two visits to the Edmund Pettus Bridge were surreal. I did not know that I would ever visit the location, but I am happy I was able to take advantage of the opportunity granted by my job. The Edmund Pettus Bridge is a significant location for its importance to the Civil Rights Movement. It is and forever will be remembered for the events of Bloody Sunday. Do not forget the work of those before us, but know that there is still a lot more to be done.