An hours ride by car, days ride by bike, and if you are marching it, it takes several days. At one time Route 80, or the “Dixie Highway”, ran from Tybee Island, South Carolina to San Diego, California. It has seen many events along its thousands of miles of asphalt. It now no longer spans the country but finds it’s terminus in Dallas, Texas.
The route between Selma to Montgomery is around fifty miles, but the route itself is as historically important as the bridge at Lexington and Concord, Reeds Hill near Boston, and Valley Forge. In March of 1965 a group of African-Americans marched from Selma to Montgomery to address their grievances and demand the freedom to register to vote; They were going to exercise that right.
It could be argued that until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as a country we could not truly call ourselves a Democratic Republic. If even one person is unlawfully denied the right to choose the people who will represent them, we have failed democracy. This was true then and it is true now, the definition has not changed.
The history of ‘Bloody Sunday’,’Turn around Tuesday’, and the subsequent march to the capitol are well recorded so I will not go into details. Read, Learn, and Understand.
It was a mild sunny day when Clint and I rode the historic route, now one of America’s Byways. We made a stop at White Hall and toured the Interpretive Center there. The presentation there was very well done and a must see to anyone.
We arrived in Selma later that same day with plans to talk with the local media and represent our trip. We also intended to ride through town and before dusk right out to find a campsite. Just before crossing the famed Edmund Pettus bridge we toured the Voting Rights Museum. The museum was newly located and was not finished at the time, it did not include all exhibits. The staff there was great and both Clint and I came away with a better perspective, however, we had only just begun to learn.
When it came time to cross the bridge we decided that we should walk rather than ride. Not as much for the safety but more for the experience.
The city of Selma, like many cities in the U.S., has gone from boom to bust and back again numerous times. A wide main street with mostly brick buildings on both sides. Some open and some closed but I had a good feeling about this town and feel that it will soon be a boom town again.
We met with a reporter from the local paper and even had the opportunity to have photos taken with his honor, the mayor. As much as we wanted to stay and explore (Selma has a large historic district), we needed to find a campsite for the night.
Just as we were about to leave we were told about the Everyman Café and bookstore, and the owner, Nancy, and that it might be possible to stay there for the night.
While standing outside the beautiful Jackson Hotel, we met Frank Diaz, who, as luck would have it, was camping out at that same café we had just been informed about.
We walked over and found the ourselves in a very eclectic book/music/art/café. Nancy soon arrived and after talking with us decided we were good people and gave us a place on the floor to call home for the night.
Both Frank and Nancy played guitars and with Clint at the piano we soon had an informal jam session! They played well past my bedtime and I fell asleep with the sound of Clint and Frank playing away. It was a great day.