December 7, 2016 – Cloudy, 50 degrees
Miles Today: 40
Miles to Date: 19,985
States to Date: 47
I did not know, waking from my sound sleep, that today would mark the historical as well as chronological precursor to my ride from Selma to Montgomery. Signs along Perry County Road 45 from Marion to Selma proclaim the Jimmie Lee Jackson Memorial Highway, in honor of the young man whose death, at the hands of local officials, spurred the protests that began as marches from Marion to Selma, and later grew to the historic march to the capital.
The land is gentle and benevolent, fertile fields and thick forests. It is easy to see why, under the order of a two-tiered society; it was such a pleasant place to be a White person. But order based on oppression is never stable. And so Jimmie Lee Jackson protested and died, and I am drawn here to follow the path of the many who trod before me to protest the ills of this land.
The city of Selma is poor and tired. So often, the biggest struggles of man are fought over scraps so tarnished we wonder in hindsight whether they were worth the trouble. But what began in Selma resonated well beyond downtown facades in need of repair or barbershops lining back streets. That the violence and unrest of Selma had to occur at all is tragic. More than fifty years later, can anyone envision a time when the city will be known for anything else?