This story is part of a series about the Asian Americans who traveled to Selma, Alabama for the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the Selma-to-Montgomery march and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Click here to view the rest of the series.
By Gayle Hane Wong
Property manager, San Gabriel
It was really nice to experience Selma with friends who share similar life experiences. The atmosphere was so positive and electrifying, the logistical glitches seemed quite trivial. The spirit of everyone we met was warm and friendly with the unspoken understanding that we were all there to share in the commemoration of this historic event and to pay tribute to all of the everyday people that participated in this great movement.
Since I stayed in Montgomery, I spent lot of time shuttling back and forth on Highway 80, the sparsely populated 54-mile stretch between Montgomery and Selma. Like so many country roads in the South, it is a lonely road. I now understand the fear of breaking down or being chased that might creep up, particularly in the dark of night. The urge to not stop when being chased by another vehicle, sirens or not, is no longer abstract.
I don’t think I really understood or appreciated the rich, inspirational history that took place in this part of Alabama until this trip. While the main objective was to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge for Bloody Sunday, I was able to visit a few of the other historical sites:
In Montgomery, the Rosa Parks Library & Museum and the old Greyhound Bus Station, which is now the Freedom Riders’ Museum.
In Lowndes County, the Interpretive Center operated by the National Park Service at the site of a tent city where black sharecroppers were forced to live after being evicted from their own tenant farms for the simple, courageous act of registering to vote.
In historic Selma, I was able to walk around and explore some of the many historic markers commemorating key events and persons. Even if I have to take the red-eye again, I want to go back to Alabama to explore further. There is so much to see, including SCLC Civil Rights Memorial, the Interpretive Centers in Selma and Montgomery, National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, sites in the surrounding communities. It would be nice to be able to travel up to Birmingham as well.