History of Selma
Selma is a city located in western Alabama on the banks of the Alabama River, 50 miles west of the state capital, Montgomery. "Selma (meaning high seat or throne) incorporated on December 4, 1820, as the steamboat era of transportation on the Alabama River began to play an important role in the economic development of Alabama. It also became notorious as a auction house for slaves coming from Mobile in the buildings located on the banks of the river. During the U.S. Civil War, the Battle of Selma was a major disaster to the Confederate cause, leaving 319 Yankees and 2,700 Confederates dead. It was the loss of one of the south's greatest manufacturing centers." (Selma City Guide).
Selma & The Civil Rights Movement
"Selma's central position in the Black Belt became the focus of desegregation and black voter registration drives where more than half of the city's residents were black, but few (less than one percent) were registered to vote. The late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once called Selma "the most segregated city in America." On March 7, 1965, six-hundred demonstrators made the first of three attempts to March from Selma to Montgomery to seek removal of voting restrictions on black Americans. As the marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a hostile force of state and local law enforcement officers sent them fleeing back into the city. The event that came to be known as Bloody Sunday was captured on camera and broadcasted across the United States, creating a surge of support for the marchers. On March 21, in support of civil rights for black Americas, Martin Luther King led a group of 3,200 marchers from Selma to Montgomery. Four days later, outside the state capitol, he addressed a gathering of 25,000 demonstrators. As a result, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law on August 6, 1965." (Selma City Guide).
Today, the black community in Selma still experiences high education inequality, institutional segregation, generational racism, and poverty. Many people would argue that Selma is a town frozen in time, where no progress to equality has been made since 1965. The country club in town has no black members and all black employees are expected to enter through the back entrance rather than the front. After schools were integrated, the white community established the Morgan Academy private school, named after a noted white supremacist. The school was only recently integrated in 2007. However, The Freedom Foundation and their Random Acts of Theatre Company (RATCo, for short) are making strides in the community by giving under-served youth the opportunity to express themselves freely through the arts and by providing them a positive, safe space where they can be themselves. Get to the know the kids of RATCo...