Selma was a turning point in the Civil Rights struggle. As civil rights marchers were attacked by police with clubs, water hoses, and snarling, biting German Shepard police dogs, the racist Southern system of hate was laid bare. At Selma there was no veneer.
On this 50th anniversary, the reportage has been too soft and fuzzy for my taste. I witnessed black teenage kids and many others stand up to the racist power structure risking everything. By risking everything I mean a large number of civil rights workers were killed in the South, many others were imprisoned, homes were burned, white Police/Klan brutality was pervasive. And on every level white authorities tried to humiliate people struggling for basic American rights.
Sentimental protest even like the well-meaning Oprah planned march in Selma obscure the reality. This wasn’t a pop TV series. This was heroic, so heroic that instead of fear, my overwhelming feeling was inspiration.
A rush of emotions prompted me to dig out an old column I wrote for the University of Texas Daily. I was surprised how bold a University paper was at that time (later censorship of my writing would lead me to join a group and start The RAG, the 5th underground paper in the US in the 60’s.) Because I had grown up for many years in the South, I understood the twisted psychology of the region. Going back to before the Civil War, working whites had been manipulated to support an economic structure built on slavery and later on racism which didn’t serve their self interest. I found I had a great deal of compassion for fearful and angry Whites that I didn’t agree with. This is one pretty good snapshot of those times…..Jeff
PS. I just learned that clicking on the text image or any photo will enlarge it for easier viewing.