On Saturday we spent much of the day with Joanne. A native of Selma, she lived here during the mass meetings and marches fighting for voting rights. She is an incredible woman and witness to how important it was to finally get to vote. As a child during the 60’s she took the hand of her sister to walk the Pettus Bridge that Bloody Sunday. Can you imagine the fear she experienced when thinking she was going on another march, something she loved to do, and then as she came over the top of the bridge she began to hear the screams of people being trampled by the police.
Even the horses the men were riding were afraid of all the terror and panic.
That march turned into chaos and fear for her as they turned and ran back the way they had just come, looking for a safe place. As she and her sister held each other and cried she realized it wasn’t her sisters tears that were dropping onto her, it was her sisters blood. Joanne, as an young woman, left Selma for the military only to return with bitterness in her heart. Selma had not changed much and the stories of what she and other experienced back in the 60’s were beginning to be lost. She committed herself for that not to happen. She became instrumental in creating the National Voting Rights Museum documenting everyone’s story during that time. She also led tours around the city, like she did for us, where the more she told the story it became therapeutic for her to work through her feelings of hate for white people. I must say that she is a woman who knows where she stands with most every person, but she is also a woman of profound love and is not afraid to tell you and share with you that love which is more powerful than anything else in the world when it comes to living in freedom.