Monday, January 15, 2018

Civil Rights Memorial Mural Outside Selma, Alabama

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
Jonathan Daniels; Viola Gregg Liuzzo; Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Rev. James Reeb; Jimmie Lee Jackson.

The Civil Rights Memorial Mural stands in the shadow of the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama. Painted on a wall along a strip of failed businesses, of failed dreams, it is a stark reminder of America's past.

A reminder of those who paid the ultimate price to advance the ideals of this great nation. Found in the windows of a row of boarded up businesses were a sign condemning the KKK and a more hopeful sign.

The signs and the mural were pause for thought in the summer of 2014 — in the days following the filming of the Oscar winning Selma. It is hoped that other dreams have occupied the businesses that once stood along Highway 80.

In Fact

In fact, Black people
Were the first physicians,
Architects and scientists.

Ancient Africans were the
Originators of art,
Mathematics, astronomy and religion.

Africa had great civilizations,
While much of the world lived in
Superstition and darkness.

So, put aside the false notions
Of Black inferiority.
Cast away the stereotypes,
Lies and compromise.

Stand strong as
Sons and daughters of
Our Creator and shine forth.

— Unknown

The lives depicted in the mural are: Jonathan Daniels (1939-1965); killed on August 20, 1965 after being released from jail for participating in a demonstration in Fort Deposit on August 14; Viola Gregg Liuzzo (1925-1965); shot to death in her car on on the last night of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March; Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968); assassinated on April 4, 1968, the day after supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis; Rev. James Reeb (1927-1965); died on March 11, 1965 in Selma, after being attacked by a group of white supremacists and; Jimmie Lee Jackson (1938-1965); a Viet Nam war veteran who was shot twice in the abdomen by an Alabama state trooper on February 18, 1965 in Marion, Alabama and succumbed to his wounds eight days later.

The placard in the window — transcribed above — was a reminder to one visitor to always be vigilant in protecting the rights of others. For when we defend the rights of one, we protect the rights of all.

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