Tag Archives: alabama
Camping at my first church since I was in North Carolina.
Many miles today. Miles through bleak suburbs choked with strip malls, empty parking lots, bad traffic, bad shoulders, familiarity and despair. Miles through farmland; wide, open spaces; countless cows grazing the lush, green pastures that are everywhere speckled with flowers—purple, waxy-yellow, and chalky-white—like a million smiling faces, and, when the wind blows, a million waving hands like those from the friendly drivers who pass me opposite; the wire fences; copses of trees; the grey clouds bunched, bulging, heavy with rain that never falls, stretching on forever all day. Miles, though fewer, through the cityscape of Selma, her streets and buildings saturated in civil rights history; boarded up houses; nice, clean, proud houses with neat landscaped yards; empty buildings; broken windows; no doors; amicableness; amiableness; junk cars; the criss-cross of railroad tracks; the Edmund Pettus Bridge where the blood flowed one day like the river runs beneath it; marvelous architecture; and damn good ribs. I also saw a banner, on it the word HOPE. More and more large towns and small cities I see today are full of hope, and desire change. Call it “the people.” They are the hope. The people are the ones, the only ones, who have the capability to turn around a city’s fortunes, and they must turn it around, because if not, then what does this word, “hope” mean, what is it for, and what does it represent? It is like a false idol which one worships, makes offerings to on every first and third Sunday, and second and fourth Wednesday. It is a place where the people might get together to sprinkle water, light incense, and talk. Talk, talk, talk; and talk is just masturbation. There is a sprinkling of seed, sure, but no fertile ground for it to settle, fertilize and grow. It brings forth no fruit, bears no children. It merely feels pleasant for a short while. It is a drug. And an addictive one at that because it requires a minimum of effort and no commitment. It is a mouth that talks, yet has no voice.
Where there are people there is hope. But where there are people there is, too, complacency.
A bug shimmers under my light, wings and carapace glinting. It flies ever so lightly, so gently, into the mesh door of my tent — bounces away into the dark. God, what magic this world contains. Magic on the minutest scale. It is not necessary that there be large explosions and a shower of sparks, though that is fine too. There is magic right under our noses. The real magic is in the looking.
Larnie’s BBQ, Selma. Massive portion of food in front of me—ribs, fried okra and sweet tea. I’m awed, though concerned about how I might continue cycling after filling my stomach so. The two pieces of white bread with the ribs so that I might make a sandwich are a nice touch.
I did the 90km from Montgomery in about three and a half hours. I am excited, partly because I’m eating delicious BBQ, but also because I will likely be able to put in another twenty or so miles today. I should arrive at Dale and Amanda’s in Gainesville tomorrow evening.
Selma has a rough history, as many southern towns have. I’m referring of course to racial discrimination and Jim Crow law, but Selma has a particularly storied past when it comes to the south and the civil rights movement.
Throughout the early twentieth century, before, during, and after both world wars Selma, as well as many southern cities and towns, enforced Jim Crow laws ruthlessly, and with violence if necessary. During the period after World War II there was a movement towards equal freedoms and rights for blacks (largely because it was due, but also because many fought in the war, so to come back after fighting for one’s country only to be treated as lesser than another because of one’s skin color was a slap in the face and a punch in the gut, and that’s putting it lightly) that only strengthened as the years went by and nothing was done. Essentially, among a number of smaller, though no less important, protests and acts of defiance by blacks across the south, this led to the the Selma to Montgomery marches, led in part by Martin Luther King Jr., and which are most well remembered for, aside from the successful march on the third attempt, the police brutality events of “Bloody Sunday” (the first attempt at the marches when local and county police accosted the marches at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, beating many of them with billy clubs, and throwing tear gas), and the killing of a white minister by members of the KKK the night after the second symbolic “march.” The third and final successful attempt at the march would eventually lead to the passing of the Selma Voting Rights Act of 1965, and laws that would give the same freedoms that whites enjoyed to blacks.