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December 13, 2022 / Jim Fenton

Civil Rights Journey Day 8: Selma to Montgomery

Alabama Capitol Building

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

After getting up and packing for today’s trip to Montgomery, we loaded up the bus and made the very short trip to the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth, and Reconciliation (SCNTR). We had breakfast at the Center, followed by training, focusing on the meaning and application of nonviolence, from the Center’s director, Ainka Jackson. One of the major themes was the difference between nonviolence, which is an active role, from the passive role of non-violence (or avoidance of violence).

Lunch was also at SCNTR and featured a powerful presentation from Callie Greer on nonviolence and forgiveness. Many years ago, her son was shot and killed in an argument with one of his peers. When the perpetrator was put on trial, she asked in her victim statement that he not be sentenced to death or to life in prison, but rather be given a minimum sentence. The judge, stunned, complied. She met the perpetrator after he had served his prison time and asked for his mother to contact her. Callie and the perpetrator’s mother continue talking to this day.

Another situation that Callie related was that her daughter found a breast lump. Due to the lack of appropriate healthcare, her cancer was not diagnosed until it had progressed too far and the daughter died. She is finding it difficult to forgive the healthcare system (specifically, the lack of Medicaid in Alabama) for this.

After the lunch discussion, we rode the bus across the Pettus bridge and on to Montgomery, Alabama. Downtown Montgomery is a considerably more attractive capital than downtown Jackson, probably due to their focus on attracting conventions and other travelers. When we arrived, we met Michelle Browder, who in addition to being our tour guide is an entrepreneur. She is focused on telling a more complete story about the role of Black women as test subjects in the development of gynecological treatment, and how they were victimized in undergoing this experimentation.

Michelle led us on a tour that began at the waterfront of the Alabama River, and gave us a lesson on reading between the lines of the historical markers in town. She pointed out in particular three markers that highlighted the slave trade and Montgomery’s role in it. There were to be more of these markers, but of course the city stopped the project.

After the tour, we returned to check into the hotel (the Renaissance, probably the nicest hotel in town), and gathered at Central, a nearby restaurant that is also among the best. This was the final group dinner of the trip, because most of the group will be leaving tomorrow afternoon.

This article is part of a series about our recent travels to the US South. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

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