March 21, 2013 by Jan Stone
On March 21, 1965 the Alabama Freedom March was conducted, after being turned down twice. The other two times state troopers using tear gas and clubs stopped the group. It was a 54-mile walk for the 3,200 participating in the march to the state capital, Montgomery, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Here are some of the challenges they faced:
- Gov. Wallace had no intention of meeting them on the stairs of the state capital. An aide said he would be “in Michigan or someplace, giving a speech.”
- The marchers had to find a new campsite to rest overnight because the “negro” tenant of a white landowner would not let them stay on his land.
- a white minister who was riding in an advance car was beat up by four white men when he got out of the car on the side of the road.
- a Federal Court order limited to 300 the number of buses that could drive on Route 80 to return the 3,200 marchers back to Selma. A special railway train was arranged in order to get the marchers back to Selma safely.
- For the first time, federal and state troopers were enlisted to ensure the safety of the marchers, not detain them.
- These 3,200 free, African-American citizens of the United States walked passed white hecklers carrying signs−one of the least offensive being “go home scum.”
As the march began, Dr. King addressed the crowed in front of Brown Chapel Methodist Church, saying, in part:
“You will be the people that will light a new chapter in the history books of our nation. Those of us who are Negroes don’t have much. We have known the long night of poverty. Because of the system, we don’t have much education and some of us don’t know how to make our nouns and verbs agree. But thank God we have our bodies, our feet and our souls.
“Walk together, children, don’t you get weary, and it will lead us to the promised land. And Alabama will be a new Alabama, and America will be a new America.”
237 years ago, our Founding Fathers wrote:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Much has been said lately of the brilliance of the Founding Fathers when it comes to the 2nd amendment and our right to bear arms. Many have found wide interpretation to allow semi- and automatic weapons. So which way do you want it with the initial wording of the Declaration of Independence? Do your interpretations apply across the board or only where you prefer?