We had first rented an apartment in town. Neighbor ladies suggested that we hire a maid and, since my first wife was pregnant, we did so. Following their advice, we paid the woman 3 dollars a day. This was dirt cheap even in 1964, so we announced our intention to give her a raise ... to 5 dollars a day. When the neighbors heard this they all cried, "Oh don't do that, then they'll all want 5 dollars!" Having heard this, we moved out and bought a trailer. The military ordered us to not get involved, but when the marchers paused across the road from our trailer, I grabbed a camera & headed out.
Here are just a few of the @1,500 photos Desiree and I took of an absolutely marvelous and enlightening experience.
The above gentleman is 78 (5 years older than me), marched all the way to Montgomery to protest voting restrictions, and he's still demonstrating - for good reason. Not since President Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act, has minority voter access been so threatened ( http://ballotpedia.org/Voter_identification_laws_by_state ) as it is today.
Following are excerpts from Sheyann's recollection of the police brutality on that fateful day, as told to Frank Sikora in his book “Selma, Lord, Selma” :
I’ll tell you, I forgot about praying, and I just turned and ran. And just as I was turning the tear gas got me; it burned my nose first and then got my eyes. I was blinded by the tears.
So I began running and not seeing where I was going. I remember being scared that I might fall over the railing and into the water."
"I don’t know if I was screaming or not, but everyone else was. People were running and falling and ducking and you could hear the horses’ hooves on the pavement and you’d hear people scream and hear the whips swishing and you’d hear them striking the people. They’d cry out; some of them moaned. Women as well as men were getting hit.
I never got hit, but one of the horses went right by me and I heard the swish sound as the whip went over my head and cracked some man across the back. It seemed to take forever to get across that bridge."
There's a Lakota prayer for oneness and harmony - Mitakuye Oyasin (All My Relations) - that just about says it all.
"And a little child shall lead them…"
This young lady led a coalition of marchers out of Selma for yet another march to Montgomery. As I knelt down to take this picture the absolute magnificence of the event caught up with me and I broke down, sobbing.
My daughter, Corri, had a good answer when she brushed aside my comment that unlike many others, I had not risked my (white) skin to take those pictures. She reminded me that I had at least "shown up." To show up, she said, means to speak out, step forward, or extend a helping hand when we witness an injustice.
Somerset Maugham wrote that "Our smallest actions may affect profoundly the whole lives of people who have nothing to do with us."
Imagine, now, a world in which everyone simply remembered to "show up!"
Love & peace,
Alan J. & Desiree M.