That heady week in Alabama changed the course of civil rights, but left one dead, many wounded and most of the country horrified by images flashed on the news of well-dressed protestors—black and white—bloodied by police, dogs and water hoses, for the crime of insisting the state of Alabama adhere to the law of the land.
If you click on 1960s Sit Ins in the right-hand column of this blog, you’ll find a collection of my own memories of these times, including one story about a Selma martyr, and several about my brief involvement in the Freedom Rides. Always in the margins of the movement, I won no awards for bravery or accomplishment, yet these events changed the course of my life.
Like many of my peers, I did not grow up in a particularly liberal home. Although decent, honest and law-abiding, my parents spent far too much time in Kansas to feel comfortable around people unlike themselves. I could easily have followed their example, but the circumstances of my life were different. They spent their late teens and twenties trying to live through the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, while I grew up in the great upheaval of 1960-1975.
The tumult of the times was not limited to the streets. Looking back, I see how my own young life reflected the nuances of change, experimentation and transformation that was playing out in the budding civil rights, anti-war and women’s rights movements.
Although stories in this series are told through the long lens of time, they are told with the advantage of the enlightenment that comes with age. I hope they’re meaningful to our children, grandchildren and anyone else who cares to read them.
I recently discovered another blogger who is sharing memories of sit ins. For a look at what things were like in Tennessee and North Carolina during the late-1950s to early 1960s, see Sit-ins, Nashville, Civil Rights, the ‘60s and me, by Connie Wilson. If you have similar stories, please send me links and I'll put them up.