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tv   American History TV Visits Selma AL  CSPAN  May 20, 2018 1:30pm-3:36pm EDT

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>> watch the entire film sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern here on american history tv all the on c-span3. more to thisgiven nation and to the world than it has done for itself. as a consequence, selma needs help. i am absolutely convinced washington owes selma a debt that is not been paid. >> ♪ i woke up this morning with my mind set on freedom i woke up this morning with my mind it was setting on freedom hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah ♪ >> welcome to selma, alabama.
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in 1955, the city was at the center for the fight for civil -- andand the saudi the starting point for the voting rights march to montgomery. located in the heart of the keye's black belt, it was to the cotton industry in the 19th century. >> the town went on to prosper and became one of the wealthiest towns in the united states. seat,0, as the county dallas county and forth highest per capita in united states. these are the wealthiest of the wealthy because of slave labor. the town was 60% african-american at least. >> later, we learn about confederate army officer and petti -- edmund pettis. you stamp a modern marvel with a man who supported by supremacy for decades. thatave a modern bridge was a key voice for white
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supremacy in the south. >> with the help of our spectrum cable partners, for the next two hours we learn about the city's history. we begin with a visit to sites closely connected to selma's voting rights movement. ♪ >> many people think the march sprung up overnight and was a one-off idea. there had been a voting rights movement brewing in selma since the 1930's. ♪ here in selma and in many places throughout the south, african-americans were denied a right to vote. not because it was not a constitutional right, because there were folks throughout the
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south in positions of power but did not want these folks to have the right to vote. that way they can be considered second-class citizens. poll taxes and literacy tests were used to deter african americans were having the right to vote. full taxes would be this fixed-price you had to pay per year in order to get on the voting roll. let's say i live in dallas county in a rural area and i'm making $60 a year. the taxes are one dollar a year. we might have a rent that is $40 a year. $40 out of the year of my $60 entire year income is going to go to the rent, but i will have $20 in which i have to feed, close and provide comfort for my kids. there are not many black people who are not going to have money left over to pay a poll tax. let's say on some whim i have a next her dollar left over and i go down to this courthouse in dallas county and i show up to
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say i would like to register to vote. i would actually go up to the county registrar, i would have my poll tax ready. takes the tax, he will administer a literacy test which is another type of barrier that africans americans faced. that literacy test it take many forms. they could be happening counties are there in alabama? 67. they might ask the name of the probate judge in the county, or in the entire state of alabama. now i will have to try to scramble to find the names of all of these probate judges in charge of enforcing the law in these particular counties. wikipediaan google or to tell you this information in 1965. it would be pretty difficult for me to do that. that was one form a literacy test could take. you can be in the form of a question. how many gallons flow to the alabama river?
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have any bubbles are in a bar of soap? it can be about 68 questions long, and i had 38 minutes to complete the test. this was in more formal settings. you had large groups come to take it. white patrons could register to vote in my paper poll tax and only have the answer 20 of those questions. an african-american might have to answer all 68. we are standing at the dallas county courthouse. this is one of the most integral pieces of the voting rights movement. the movement did not to start up in 1965. there were protests every single day beginning in 1963 when the student nonviolent coordinating committee came to selma. they began rallying the use of selma to come down in protest where their parents were not necessarily joining in just yet. places were being led to almost every single day during the summer and fall of 1963, been resurging in 1965 when the
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southern christian leadership conference came in with dr. king and they would much continuously throughout that time going from january all the way up until bloody sunday in march of 1965. on any given day if you had a protest coming and directed at the dallas county courthouse, most people are going to line up on this side here, down the side of the building. you might have the sheriff standing right at the top of the steps. if you guys see where the door is, that is where sheriff clark would be standing. you would have protesters lined up to get into the voter registration office. you would have folks lined up, wrapped around the building singing protest songs and chants and things of that nature. you might hear a good ♪ woke up this morning with my mind set on freedom i woke up this morning with my mind set on freedom
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i woke up this morning with my mind, it was set on freedom hallelujah hallelujah ♪ elujah >> here we are at brown chapel church. this is one of the movement churches, one of the main churches that was used during the voting rights movement the hold meetings and training sessions and offer meetings for civil rights leaders. it's one of the oldest black churches in the city of selma. dr. king gave his first feature on january 2, 1965. mayor,businessman, the the police commissioner of the city, and everybody in the white power structure of the city must
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take responsibility for everything in this community. >> announcing his present and letting the folks know the movement now had a new voice. throughout the 1930's, the voters late had been the main organization working here in selma to achieve voting rights for african-americans. they were the main people holding registration drives and voter registration classes for black people throughout the county and the city. they worked about the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's to really attack the problem of african-americans in selma not having the right to vote. 1963, february of that year, bernard lafayette and his wife were the voice in the area. they were beginning to go into places that had not been touched by the civil rights movement. they were the main people working with the young folks in
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selma to prepare them for the work of civil rights and to march in protests in the streets, writes they were not even old enough to have. they laid the foundation and the groundwork for them to come in and deal with that in 1965. they did not meet here at brown chapel church, for they began in the basement of tabernacle baptist church on broad street. the interesting thing about tabernacle baptist is the fact the church had two faces. it was built by a black architect of the 1920's. during that time segregation ordinances prevented african-americans from entering or exiting the building of broad street, the main street in the middle of the city. whatever baptist church was built in the 1920's, the architect played a trick on the city officials. there is an entrance, like the side of the building has an entrance on broad street, for the real entrance is on the avenue. it is called the church with two faces.
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this is where they began doing nonviolent resistance training for high school students and others interested in protesting for the right to vote. ofdid not work just out tabernacle baptist. they moved their operations over the first baptist church, the black first baptist church in selma, which is right down the street from where we are now. it served as the headquarters for many mass meetings, including one right before freedom day in october of 19 ac three were dorothy height was the main attraction. for thathe speaker evening and gave a lot of encouragement to those who would go out and protest at the dallas county courthouse next morning. selma was a logical place for the voting rights movement to really have its push because the fact there were so many factors that made it a real hotbed for the issue. you had a population that was mostly african-american. there were only 240 registered black voters throughout the entire county. there were also agitation that
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would be needed to make this movement successful. you had a sheriff it was very belligerent towards african-american protesters, towards those who just want his cup of tea. he was sheriff jim clark. be really provided the type of resistance that groups like fclc needed to make selma a stand for voting rights. dr. king brought three things and he came down to selma. he brought money from donors able to help get a lot of the people bailed out of jail. he also brought motivation. we had not had a figure come in like dr. king. he could lead the masses, it did speak eloquently and inspire people. he brought a lot of motivation with him. that was the inspiration for a lot of adults to get involved with the movement. he also brought the media. the media is what put the nail
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in the coffin for the voting rights movement here. they were able to show even though these protesters were nonviolent and they were only practicing civil disobedience, they were being mistreated because of share clark's attitudes towards them -- sheriff clark's attitudes towards them. we made away from brown chapel church over to the bridge, which is a movement that african-american protesters in selma during the voting rights movement would have made three separate times. the first is what we know of as bloody sunday. 1965, 600 march 7, protesters gathered at the church on the playground area to get their wits about them and be prepared to go all the way from selma to montgomery. how did they get the idea to have a march from here all the way to montgomery? it was the direct action they wanted to take in response to
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the death of jimmy lee jackson. he was a 26-year-old veteran who lived in marion, alabama. during the night march on february 18, 1965, he was shot by the alabama state troopers while trying to protect his mother and grandfather from getting assaulted. eight days later he died. the marchers in selma wanted to do something in honor of him and decided taking his body all the way to the alabama state capital and laying him on the steps to show george wallace how important voting rights was to them was the right thing to do. instead of taking his body all the way from montgomery, they decided to conceal the idea, so they marched in his spirit. on the first attempt on march7, protesters left around chapel church in the afternoon and progressed down the street to alabama avenue and then walked out here on broad street to cross the admin -- edmund pet s
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tis bridge. those that left the market saw a sea of blue made up of state troopers and deputies. citizens who have been deputized by the sheriff. when they crested the top of the bridge, they did feel fear but even though they were a little they continued to put one foot in front of the other and marched about 100 yards past the edge of the bridge before they were stopped by major john cloud of the alabama state troopers. major john cloud actually said to them this is an unlawful assembly and you had two minutes to disperse and turn around and go back to your churches where your homes. john lewis said and we have a word with the major? 30 seconds later you get the order for the troopers to advance, and they did.
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the melee that ensued is what we know as luddy sunday. alabama state troopers, the sheriff's deputies and those deputized citizens rushed the marchers right here on this bridge back across the bridge, beating them with nightsticks, billy clubs, even furniture wrapped in part where. tear gas were going off and they beat the marchers not just here at the bridge, of back throughout the city and into the george washington carver home area where we just were. they were accounts of the officials throwing young women into the baptismal pools. that was the first attempt. what made this significant is the fact there were so many media cameras ever there that were capturing this moment. not only were the cameras, but there were national news hosts who were there filming this action. that night in the middle of trial that tarana burke, the footage -- at nuremberg, the
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footage appeared. people got to see what happened on that day. after dr. king found out about the march in the things that happened to the protesters, he put out a call for clergy members across the country to come down and march on tuesday, march 9. he wanted these folks to come and be the face of this particular march. the next morning when he arrived waselma, he was told there an injunction placed on the march by george wallace. it had gone to federal court judge frank johnson in montgomery. frank johnson notified dr. king there was going to be in injunction against the march and he was going to set the court date for march 11. dr. king at already promised the people they would march on march 9. how did he keep his word? 8, they wouldh march for the right to vote for african-americans and not
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violated federal court junction? he got on the phone with some of the top people in washington, including the president and representatives. they came up with a solution that he would march to the spot of bloody sunday for the attack began and then turned back around. this march is no nurse turnaround tuesday. on the -- this march is known as turnaround tuesday. they gathered over at the church to lockdown sylvan street, to turn right here on water avenue and in front of the bridge right here. as they crested the top of the bridge this time, that same sea of blue stared them in the face. the troopers insurance deputies from dallas county. saw this sea of blue, dr. king knelt in saw thi, they sang songs and then they turn around. the majority of the people on the march, virtually all the people in the march, did not
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know those were his intentions. only the top people were privy to this information. folks whoout 2000 assumed they were marching all the way to montgomery, but empty they turned around. who did not want another bloody sunday, but some were extremely disgruntled. studentd some of the court haters to leave selma and fighting in montgomery with student groups from tuskegee university in alabama state. after the march there was the death of another young man who was a unitarian minister from boston. he had come down from boston to be a part of the march. that night he was beaten by white citizens in selma for his involvement with the movement. he actually died about two days later from his injuries, and he is known as the second martyr of the voting rights movement. of death inspired a lot
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thought from white citizens across the country. that's another reason why this day is known as turnaround tuesday, because white attitudes started to change. frank johnson, the district court judge began hearings on march 11. he heard from many civil rights leaders. movement,olved in the and from the opposition, jim clark, the governor, governor wallace, and others who were not fond of the march in selma. he issued his decision pretty much saying this march will be necessary in order for african-americans to actually obtain the right to vote. there had been such an injustice done to these folks, especially in selma by those issuing the injunction that the march of the scale seemed to be appropriate. that was march 17.
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they only had four days to get everything together to make the entire track from selma to montgomery. beginning on march 21, more than 3200 people gathered around the church to begin the march all the way from selma to montgomery. they took the bloody sunday route. ♪hey came down so the
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god bless you ♪ >> there is no constitutional issue here. the command of the constitution
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is plain. there is no moral issue. wrong tong, deadly deny any of your fellow americans the right to vote in this country. [applause] 1965, president johnson addressed congress, urging of the past will would become the voting rights act of 1965. native, clear from selma joyce o'neill as she describes life in selma before the voting rights act was passed. remember when i became of age to vote, by mother said, let's go. it is time to register. voteember when it went to and i cast that ballot, there
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was a sense of pride that i was -- first when i registered there was no hassle. i just registered. then when i voted, it was a great feeling that all those days out of school and everything that has been done to get to that point i was a part of. so it was really special to be able to cast a ballot. historicalhe episcopal church in selma, alabama. this sanctuary was built in 1908 . the church was started in 1866. it's a stork for a number of reasons. one is when we go back to the start of the church, social action and the need for african-americans to worship in
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peace and worship in their own way. it was historic also in 1965 because the church opened its went through more african-americans were for bid and from gathering together and meeting together in one place. i'm originally from dallas county. my mother's side of the family is from dallas county. my father's family is from ohio. didas reared in ohio and not experience the same things my mother experience in growing up. there were some vestiges of racism where he lived, but he actually went to an integrated high school where he was one of the few african-americans in the school. my mother grew up in a segregated south where everything was separate but unequal. the two sides of the family had
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different histories. i grew up in segregated selma where everything was separate but unequal. i went to a segregated high school and grew up at a time when when we went downtown and went to a store, a mother or grandmother would tell us to keep our hands to ourselves because if you touched something and you were african-american you can be accused of stealing. the police would be called. when it was just the -- a little girl trying to see was something felt like. the jim crow south was a time when african-americans could not do a lot of things. about separately restrooms, but a lot of times you would hear a lot about the other everyday occurrences that happened during jim crow.
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black men getting off the sidewalk when they met a white female. or not being able to walk from the sidewalk period in front of a business. separate seating in movie theaters. but in selma at that time, selma had a self-contained community and that in the community there was a movie theater in the black community. there were drugstores. we had doctors. we had dentists. we could get the things we needed without having to go downtown. to live in the jim crow south, there were places where african-americans could not eat. there was a business downtown that sold hamburgers. blacks had to go to the back to the little window to order hamburgers.
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i never went because my mother made hamburgers at home. she said before she would subject her daughter to that kind of treatment, she would not have toers and allow us to go downtown and experience that treatment. those of the kinds of things that happened, but i don't remember that my memory from that time is not of sadness because as i was experiencing it i did not realize the want and what i was missing because it seemed like i had everything. 1965, i was 15 years old and a junior at high school. my mother was a teacher at the high school. she could not vote. every time she went to the courthouse to attempt to register, her application was
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always denied. regardless of the questions she was given that they, whether she could answer it or not, it was denied. movement,l for the the voting rights movement. if you can do is known as the movement. in our household we never missed a meeting. i mother was working during the day at the high school. my grandmother lived with us. she would sometimes come down to the church with us. we would come to the church and we would go to either this church for first baptist on the corner. on the corner at first baptist the student nonviolent court any committee was headquartered there, snic. that is where we would go to be trained in marching techniques and how to protect ourselves a case we were a costed by deputies with billy clubs. meetingsome to some
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and we would leave the church and marched to the courthouse with signs that said "let my parents vote." "let my mother vote." we would make our own signs to take to the courthouse. that was practically an everyday occurrence, to go to the courthouse. in walking to the courthouse because lots of times people were arrested. lots of times people were beaten back from the steps of the courthouse. knew when you are marching on a given day whether you would be arrested or whether you would be hit with a billy club. fortunately i was never hit. i was not arrested. my sister was arrested, along with my best friend. i did not go to jail but i did march. i participated in some of the other, probably call significant marches. ♪
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♪ is to role of the church open their doors, but more importantly, a lot of people see the voting rights movement as a political movement, and it was not. was a spiritual movement with social and political consequences. it was grounded in the religion, because of the meetings held in churches. they were very spiritual. lots of singing, praying, scripture reading. thinking -- songs were not secular, they were spiritual
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songs. they were old and egress. you are spirit they were freedom songs that were grounded. the movement was largely spiritual. the churches played the role of opening the doors to give a place for the mass meetings. the pastors were involved in the movement. made upment was largely of the pastors of the churches in this area. seam running through most of , thateeches african-americans were important people in that we deserved real freedom, and the freedom to do all the things that have been denied through the years. ran throughout. teachings,r. kings
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what he preached, nonviolence and to turn the other cheek. that theme, although not easily accepted by many, was easily accepted by most of us, because we knew that violence would not bring peace. it would only bring more violence. specific training for young people is how to protect yourself if you are marching and you were accosted by those with down onubs, how to get the floor in a crouching position and cover your head. it was important to cover your head, so your head would receive from the billy club, and how to react if you were stuck with a cattle prod. inwere also taught because,
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walking through the church, we would have to walk through the white citizens council, a group on horseback who had been deputized to intimidate. they would be on horseback in the corners and we would have to walk through them to that to the church. we were taught not to engage them, not to make eye contact, but to keep walking and keep focus on reaching the church safely. selmawas a group in called the courageous eight. it was six men and two women. were amelia boynton robinson and mary foster. marched the entire distance from selma to montgomery, and she was fully an adult at that time. there were women in this church, one of them was our youth
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director, margaret jones moore . you don't hear a lot about her, you hear about a million robinson on the bridge on bloody sunday. margaret jones moore was on that ground, too. amelia boynton billings robinson had on a white coat. margaret jones moore had a white coat as well. both of them went down on the ground, having fallen in bidding -- being beaten. margaret jones was a stalwart. she was a teacher. she taught me english in the 11th grade. at church ornot not at school, she would talk about the freedoms we needed to what and talk about
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special people they were, and never let anybody diminish you, that you were a strong person, a great person, and just because you were african-american did not mean you wear any less than anyone else in this world. we really understood what the purpose was and we understand intimately what our mission was and what the outcome was that we were working toward. knew, especially after bloody sunday, that we were making history. it's unfortunate that bloody sunday had to happen, but we to bloodyw prior sunday, when we were marching, and afterwards, that this was a history making movement. after the successful march from selma to montgomery, there was a great feeling of accomplishment. that was my personal feeling. that feeling
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permeated the city, that we had accomplished something. and not just the city. people had come from everywhere to assist with the voting rights movement after bloody sunday. lots of people came into selma to assist. i think for everybody that was involved, even for those who were on the sidelines, there was a great sense of accomplishment. we coulden told that not do it and it would not be done. there was a lot of pushback from the governor, and also from who did noton, want that much to have been. it occurred, it was successful. about 25,000 people marched that day. it was a great sense that we had really done what we had set out to do. we knew the fight was not over, because the voting rights bill
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had not been passed at that time , but we knew that the eyes of the world were on selma by then. training that and the voting rights bill would pass, and that would be the of what we had done in a march to montgomery. i think we can learn from the movement that when people come together for a common cause, change can be effected. and when people believe strongly in a cause, they can work with others to change things. that's what the movement taught us. i don't think change can be affected in the same way today. at the change has to be ballot box. if you want change, you have to elect people willing to enact laws that will protect be fordy, and that will
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everybody, and not just a faction of the nation. we have to hold people in office who are willing to stand for what is right and not stand for party, but to stand for what is right and for what is in the best interest of the majority of greattizens of this humanity. [cheers and applause] from selma alabama, they told us we wouldn't get here. there were those who said we
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would get here only over their dead bodies. knows thatld today we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in the state of alabama saying, we ain't going to let nobody turn us around. >> we continue our visit to summit with a visit to the round travel ame church, the church martin luther king used as a gathering place leading up to the civil rights march. i have a huge responsibility to appreciate and value the past, the contributions, the people who made those contributions, cannot take any of that for granted. but it also means i have to connect that to the present in a way that allows a transition of , intoision, those values , and serve asment
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a trustee or a steward of all of the sacrifices, the contributions that others were , and let thate fire ignite, inspiring me and others here in the present. the church has received two cascade major presentation preservation grants from the national parks service civil rights awards. one of our own. members of this church, congresswoman mary sewall, played a part in the legislation being offered and passed in congress that led to the creation of those awards. face -- this church has received for $500,000,e probably a little more than a year ago, and recently, a couple
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of months ago, another for about $300,000. that is for preserving, physical aspects of the church. 1908.hurch was built in obviously, this is original equipment. everything in here was from that time when it was built. obviously, there's a lot of maintenance, a lot of deterioration. grantsk god for those and those awards. is of course,that the nps is a governmental agency, congress approved that, but here we are in 2017 and 2018, and this church is receiving from the federal government those kinds of awards and grants for the restoration,
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preservation, because -- and obviously, the church is on the national and state historical registers -- because of the role that the church played in opposing state government edicts that were issued by governor wallace, now the government is awarding grants for the perpetuation of a physical entity that provided a sanctuary for persons who are determined that they were going to be obedient to the voice of god rather than to the voice of the governor at the time, who said that no more than three black persons could assemble in any one place at one time. i just see a tremendous irony in that. i do know that we have some tremendous hurdles to
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overcome i do know that i was disappointed, having had some sense from a historical thatective, of the role selma played in the voting rights draft. things to be further advanced and further along in interactions.l you had of here, several african-american mayors, african-americans in positions att we didn't even vote for now here we and are. i think that is a part of the , and that's a it think
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it is so important to not just be focused on the history, the historical, but what was the mission? what was the vision of persons who were willing to lay it all, line?ncluded, on the i think they were looking beyond where we are right now. weekend, american history tv is joining our spectrum cable partners to showcase the history of selma, alabama. to learn more about the cities on the current tour, visit we continue now with a look at the history of selma. >> racism has not done only in this country and most early has not gone away in the deep south or in some. my name is james perkins junior. i was educated here in selma. was fortunate enough to become
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the first african-american mayor to serve the city of selma. in selma in i was 12 years of age. i was a student protester. i participated in the movement. we were not marching to get the right to vote as a child, we wanted to go to the local restaurant and eat a hot dog. we did not want to go to the back window anymore. we just wanted basic human rights. that's really what we were thinking about. we weren't thinking about voting. but the adults, the people we refer to as the courageous eight, they understood we needed to get the power to vote in order to get the things we wanted us children. my political mentor was dr. reese. he recently passed. he was the last surviving member of the courageous eight. he was the leader of the county voters league during the 1965 movement. he signed the letter to invite dr. king to selma.
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that is my political mentor. that is the guy who i was cut 1972 is the first time african-americans were elected to the city council in selma since reconstruction. i knew those people well. just fortunate enough to have had them in my life that early. it really did shape a lot of my .iews and opinions and thoughts my initial campaign run was in 1992. was not successful. ran again in 1996. was not successful. then again in 2000, and i was successful. from the time i initiated the process to the time i became, very little had changed politically. the thing that has changed was the demographics of the community. the demographics had turned into 65% or 70% african-american base or population in the city.
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that shift in the demographics was causing a shift in the current seated mayor at that time. the mayor during the 1965 movement, he actually referred to martin luther king as martin luther coon. entirethere during that period and remained in office during that time when he was defeated. he was an interesting guy. he was a machine politician. he was very savvy in his politics. town.trolled this the former mayor was more of a chameleon, more of a popular politician than a racist. he would really shift his political base as the demographics of the community changed.
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he would add an african american his cabinet as demographics changed, who was from an influential family in the community. that would bring a block of african-american votes to his base. he would do that consistently. he was successful with that. i think in the 2000 election, there was a feeling that there hadn't been a shift. i think everyone felt it. -- becoming the first african-american mayor of selma -- the economic challenges, declining quality of education, disparities, very significant disparities in health care, education, economics, those were primarily, and relations. relations were strained. you transition from leadership and6 years to someone else,
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that's going to be a challenge, regardless of who is in office. piled together, it constituted a very big change in our community. i don't think most of the population -- in fact, i know most of the population of the city of soma is not politically engaged. most people do not know what's happening right now in city hall. think people feel with happening, but they don't really know what's happening. there are some real issues going are not beingat properly addressed. one is the decline in population. another is the decline in economic opportunities. we have to do something about these things. they are real problems, and they just have not gone away. as a really suffered
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consequence of its contributions to rights of people, not just in this nation, but around the world. if you look at pictures of tiananmen square, using models of selma. you look at the movement against apartheid in south africa, uc a model -- you see a model of selma. selma has given more to this nation and the world than it has done for itself. and as a consequence, selma needs help. it needs a fresh approach to dealing with the challenges that we face. and i'm absolutely convinced that washington owes selma a debt that has not been paid. so, at some point, i would like to see this nation truly honor selma with resources that are needed to stand this community back up on its feet. >> we went to tell my mother that we had been robbed, and we
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are going to get a plaque, but no. because of fear. town duringangerous that time. if you did anything out of order, you could be killed. your house could be burned down, your family could be put in jail. you could lose your job. everything in your home. families, they were fearful. kids, we were poor kids. we went by the railroad tracks. we were the kids willing to take a chance. we didn't know if we had anything to lose. but we didn't tell our parents. announcer: c-span continues its special feature of selma, alabama with a tour of the voting rights museum. musician --with the museum since it opened in 1993.
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one of our primary goals for the voting rights museum was to identify and document the people of the the foot soldiers voting rights struggle. everybody has seen the pictures and video tapes of dr. king leading civil rights marches, but then you see all these behind dr. king in those marches. those are the people we call the foot soldiers. behind dr.people king every day. some of them got beaten. some of them got put in jail. all those things that happened to the leaders of the movement happened to regular people. but because they were not the leaders of the movement when the new law was passed, the voting rights act was passed, and all the demonstrations ended, most
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people just went back to their regular worlds, to their families, to their jobs, and because they were not the leaders of the movement, no one ever went to see them out. and torview them, document, why did they participate? what did they contribute to history? we opened the voting rights museum in 1993 and we made that one of our primary goals. when you walk through the museum, you see the footsteps on the wall. those are from people we say in the two historic marches. the march on bloody sunday when people were beaten and tear gassed and forced to end the march, and also the march from selma to montgomery. when the constitution was first established, they limited people who had the right to vote.
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the women wear the people left out of the process as well as african-americans and other minority group. there was an ongoing struggle to get everyone included. of course, women were included in the 1920's, but it was not all women. it was women that owned property. if they were a taxpayer, they could be put on the voting rolls. on the anniversary in march, we induct new women into the women's suffrage gallery. march 2 of this year, we inducted three extra into the gallery. we continue to ask people to highlight women. the times, women or invisible workers. they did the work but not got the recognition the men were getting. we try and highlight their efforts by giving them their own special gallery to highlight their efforts. what we know from our history, there was a struggle from the right to vote and include our citizens, there was also
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opposition to the struggle. one of them was the ku klux klan. we have to tell the story from both sides, because we know there was opposition. exhibitan -- the klan exhibit. we also have a symbol of the burning crosses they would burn in front of leaders houses to send a signal to those leaders, we know what you are doing, if you don't stop, we would burn your house down next. those were the terrible things they were doing to the leaders of the movement to stop people from participating in their work. klan would terrorize people. in the early days, they would take away black people's properties, their clothes. they would stop you from trying to register to vote. they would use scare tactics to stop people. it was prevalent throughout the
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south. at the end of the civil war, there were three new laws passed. the 13th amendment, 14th, and 15th. the 15th gave black men the right about. black men started voting. in southern students -- states, they were able to get black men elected to congress. as a result, black men having the right to vote. that process went on for about 30 years with black men of electing black men to congress. the at the beginning of 1900s, you see all the southern states listed in this role here, they basically changed state laws within a three-year period. they were the same jim crow state laws, the laws that denied black men the right event. they said to vote, you have to do additional things. one of them was you had to pass a test, called a literacy test.
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another thing was you had to be able to pass a state poll tax. no one could pass a literacy test, because they had trick questions on the test, like how many bubbles in a bar of soap? of course, people could not pass the test. met -- made ofey black men who had already been voting go back and take the test. they would take them off the voting list. they lost their right to vote because of those tests. as a result, those people losing their right to vote, the black men got it elected -- that got elected to congress working out -- where cake. d out. place, where people
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would gather and have meetings. as part of church service meetings, they can also include information about what was going on in the community. toy use the opportunities inform the public about what they were doing to bring around a change and a new way of life into the community. churches were very important. they were three main churches and selma participating in the movement. those were title nicole -- tabernacle missionary, brown chapel and first baptist. churches were very important to the civil rights movement and voting rights movement. the churches today are still just as important, but we have to be more active in getting the church is involved and participating in social change. room, we have an actual voting machine that went out to americans in this community, when they got the right to vote, this was the first machine. we bring this machine and so people could see.
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it wasn't an easy process. you had to be educated on the process. i also talked about the literacy test. how many bubbles are in a bar of soap, that was one question. they also had versions. they would show a jar of jelly beans and ask, how many jellybeans in the jar? how many cotton balls? he had various versions of the test. wherelso had one version people had to sit down and write out the constitution verbatim. people practiced. but when they wrote it out for test, they would get a letter three weeks later saying that you missed one word, come back and try again in three months. people felt to things, number one, they wanted to be free of the oppressed conditions, and they felt voting was a means of getting them free. they didn't completely understand the extent of what voting could do, but they felt
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that was one process of being free. even though you are being rejected, people still wanted to trying. so they kept they never gave up trying. when you went out to go march, people were being beaten and some people were killed, but people would not stop because they wanted to be free. over the last 25 years of me doing this, i identified one common thread that runs between all the people that participated in the movement. that common thread is that at some point, all of those people lost their fear. it didn't happen for everyone at the same time, but during the course of the activities, everyone lost their fear. it was dangerous, people getting killed, getting beaten, but people felt they were as low as they could go. what could happen next? what? i'm going back out there. when people lost their fear, you would be surprised what you can do when you are not paralyzed by fear.
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we are standing in a replica of the selma city jail. this is a replica of the jail that was the same sized cell that martin luther king jr. was placed in. at 11 years old, i got placed in one of these also myself, two times, marching for the right to vote. when dr. king came to selma and got involved in the movement here in selma, the movement came with a strategy that would have somebody marched to the court has every day, and hold a picket line. they came up with a strategy that during the work week, when adults could not go to the picket line, they started at andting students -- encouraging students to walk out of school and go form a picket line. that's what we would do. we would walk out of school, go to the brown chapel church, get our signs, march from the church down to the courthouse. we would stand in front of the courthouse and give -- with a
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sign that says "we want our and such. but then the yellow school buses showed up to take people to jail. they didn't let anybody leave. the jail was three blocks from the courthouse. they would put you on the bus, but you are around the corner in the jail, take you off the bus, and say everyone, go to the second floor where the cells are located. they would always separate the boys from the girls. and they would pack about 20 boys into one of these little cells, meant for one or two people. they would have 20. and they would say, this is the drinking water for everyone. everyone has to drink out of the same time -- tub. you've got one bathroom over here for 20 people. and at that time, if you were under 18 years old, you had to
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stay in here until your parents came to sign you have. that means you had to sign -- wait for your parents to get out of work. they have to go find a ride and get you out. say to young people, just because you are a young person, don't think you can't make a difference. go to your neighborhood, your community, and if you see something you want to change, you can organize, go out there and make it happen. this exhibit room is dedicated to president barack obama, the 44th president. he was one of the beneficiaries of people who struggled in the 1960's for the right to vote. we know without that struggle, he could never have been elected president of the united states of america. forad an opportunity president obama to come and see his exhibit in 2015 for the 50th
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anniversary of bloody sunday. president obama was one of our invited guests. he came along with former president george bush. we are very proud of this exhibit, because we know through all that suffering and the struggling up 50 years, we can look back and say, this is a special time, this was all worth it, all the sacrifices people made, even though some people ended up giving their lives. we also know there is an ongoing struggle. we know back in 2013, the supreme court issued a severe blow to the voting rights act when they set aside section five, which was the enforcement equally across the board around the country. when the supreme court said that section aside, they said the u.s. congress had to pass new laws to reinstate the section.
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we have an ongoing struggle here today trying to help the congress act on getting that reinstated. what i think is important that people around the world know is that this can tell you how you strive in adverse situations. we went through the traumatic events of bloody sunday, we were able to move forward, and with the help of many other people, able to elect the first african-american president. we want people to know that you can inspire and go back and do what you can do in your community. announcer: this weekend, american history tv is featuring selma, alabama. recently visited many sites look -- showcasing history. the city was founded in intime 20 and given its name by alabama's only u.s. vice president, william rufus king.
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learn more about selma's history here on american history tv. >> i want to let them you to the site of alabama's most famous ghost town, but also in archaeological park on the alabama historical commission. our mission here is to let visitors know that history is not just in books, not just in museums or historical homes, but these landscapes throughout the black belt. other than mobile, this is as big as it got in alabama or the south, these river ports where people got cotton to ship them out. this is special because it was created, carved out of the wilderness, by the first governor to be the first state chapel. they gave us one square mile to build the capital.
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they designed a plan and sold the lots and that's how we built the first treasury. it served as a capital from 1819 to 1826, then to tuscaloosa, then eventually to montgomery. county seat as a for dow list county. it was really during the -- it was more of a frontier town. as a county seat, it continued to grow. that town went on to prosper and became one of the wealthiest in the u.s. the county seat for dallas county, they had the fourth highest or capital wealth in the u.s. we had the largest mansion in the state. churches, many find businesses. these were the wealthiest of the course, the of enslaved laborers. the town in that time was 60% african-american at least. it was always a majority black town, but a lot of wealth. we are in the center of the town of cahawba.
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the governor designed it that way. of an oldthe remnants indian village. when the governor showed up, it was a ghost town already. there had been a group of native americans who had built their village here. they built a mound and dug a deep moat and put a palisade around the village. when he showed up, he built a -- he saw the semi circle with a mound in the middle. he made that the first capital. it's very symbolic. comments to put a statehouse on top of the indian mound, at the end of this wide vista with the statehouse on top, he wanted to show dominion by putting the statehouse on top of the indian mound. then we went to the legislature after raising all this money, and then he would only get $10,000. so he put the state house on the , and made this the capital
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reserve thinking he would be able to build his grand plan. that did not work out for him. he passed away and they moved to tuscaloosa. the new center of town was not government, it was cotton. these became cotton warehouses. today, in one part, the warehouses are gone, all the buildings downtown are gone, but you can actually trace the walls of what i'm the -- one of the cotton warehouses. you can follow the wall that was later turned into a prison for union soldiers. standing columns, standing chimneys, and bits and pieces, rooms of what used to be. this is history in its natural state. we haven't reconstructed anything. if you come here, you are finding what has been left behind. you are experiencing what was left by the long dead residents of cahawba. in 1866, civil war
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they moved the courthouse to selma. when that happened, it was a majority black town. it was the first white flight of all the white residents who picked up and moved to selma. actually took many of their houses and rebuild them. historic summit is actually of cahaba. what was left here were some abandoned buildings. what happened is the newly emancipated slaves moved into cahaba and traded a freemans village here. in selma, they called it the neck of the lateral republican party, because they were meeting in abandoned club passes, the republicans, the party of lincoln, and giving speeches to people who had just gained the right to that. -- right to vote. they register to vote here at cahaba. they lasted through reconstruction. the military pulled
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out, it became a ghost town. cahaba, a good place to stop is the old cahawba prairie. it's run by a program that saves while places for alabama. the reason i like people to stop here is because this is one of the few remnants of the old black belt prairie. the whole center part of the state is called the black belt, and it used to be black belt prairie. that's what turned into the cotton belt. that's how we had so much wealth here in the antebellum years and why there was so much slavery. settlers here would have plowed this prairie and turned it into cotton.cotton, and more if you come visit cahaba for alabama's bicentennial, you drive past this little swath of prairie so you can see what the early settlers saw and what the first governor saw when he came to cahaba for the first time. leaving the old
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cahawba prairie, we are heading toward the side of old cahaba. >> when it was still a thriving community, what with the area look like? >> this would still be agricultural lands. directly in front of it would have been the matthews plantation. he was one of the wealthiest planters. anywhere, actually. these are right outside the thererts of town, where were major plantations. on the left, it's hard to see, but you begin to see the old 1850 railroad and bank meant. -- and bank meant that was important. it brought cotton from town into the warehouses. the river was not deep enough for the steamboats to make it up this far. they would hold on until they could ship it to mobile and then onto the mills in the northeast and to england -- new england. >> when were the railroads brought into town?
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>> this one dates from about 1858. that's why cahawba boomed in the late into the 50's. it was the speculation of what the railroad would do. because we are in the black belt prairie, when it gets wet, it is really sticky and the wagons would get stuck. it would be hard to bring your cotton into town. once you had the railroad line, it would be a steady way to get the cotton in. directly behind me, the confluence of the cahawba and alabama reversed. the cahawba today is the most by a diverse in the nation and the last free-flowing river in the state. i think governor bibb chose this because of the confluence of the two rivers. he could bring cotton from a broader back land. the alabama river was the main highway from the antebellum period.
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that's how they picked up the cotton and brought it to mobile. we are standing in front of the code to run columns. crozier ons are from staten island, new york. they built alabama's first state house here. the later generation came to build this mansion and attached it to the back of a brick store that his uncle's built in 1819. he did this to entice his bride down to alabama. lots of people from the northeast and other places came here to make their fortune. they were here because of cotton. they started as merchants. when they made enough money, they would become planters, too. that's why they were here. this family left and went back to new york. his granddaughter became the dean of barnard college.
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they are very prominent in new york and still are today. during the civil war, a man named mr. matthews lived here. after the bottom -- battle of selma, the generals fighting in actually met in this house and had dinner together, drank cordials and smoke cigars, which was a different part of having war. when the house burnt in 1920's, it was then used as sort of a getaway for a banker in selma. when the big house burned, they built a cabin. --y called it one of vista buena vista. it is in a road, it kind of blocks the original mansion to the rivers. but it has a soft spot in our hearts, because the first
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society that wanted to save cahawba wanted -- first met in that building. now we are going to swing by the site that had alabama's first statehouse. we have covered our archaeological dig. we are trying to discover exactly where the state house was. even amazing -- the amazing thing about the hobby -- the amazing thing about cahawba is all the foot steps left behind. capital?as the andt was built in 1819, continued as the county courthouse after the state government left. it collapsed in 1833. >> do we know what caused the collapse? >> it's interesting you ask that, because the myth has always been that the first brick
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was soft, but we are finding heart break. nice and hard. but the mortar falls apart. what thethat is problem was, the mortar was soft. >> where we headed now? >> we are on capitol street. now we are going to turn right here on oaks street. is a decision-making process. that way is a great year. that way is selma. that was the decision people had to make. either you died here or you left and went to selma. make this turn, we will see a small, one-room schoolhouse. behind it is the ruins of the 1848 church. we are standing in front of the ruins of a methodist church. it was built in 1848 for the white methodists of the town of cahawba. the first minister also preached to the enslaved able -- people of cahawba. he had a separate log church
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built for them. whenthe civil war ended, white people abandoned the town, the church was left empty. the african methodist episcopal church moved in and made it their congregation. so the people who were former slaves were shipped as methodists, and then became ame methodists. war, thishe civil became a town of nearly emancipated slaves. it was 90% african americans. they had their own church, started their own schools, and registered to vote. the way they voted, they were all republicans, because that was the party of lincoln. all of the african-americans here voted as republicans. they would hold political rallies in the abandoned courthouse. in selma, they called this place the mecca of the radical
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republican party, because all the republican politics was going on here. this church continued as the ame church until 1954, when the church caught on fire and burned. to, ifng on who you talk you talk to local african people, they say it was the church burning. if you talk to white people around here, they say it was a controlled burn, and the timber that got away and caught this on fire accidentally. i don't know what the true story is, but you have two versions of history. next door to us is a little one room school. for the tenant farmers that were here, they could have a public school, but they had to build this school and then the county would provide them a teacher. that's what they did. originally, they had a school in the church, but oral history marking that kids were the back of the pews, so they salvaged wood from some of the old antebellum buildings, and
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used it to build a one-room schoolhouse. untilat school functioned brown v. board of education. it was until that time dallas county closed that school and other schools exactly like it to create bigger, larger, what would be considered separate but equal schools. that's what happened to that school. leaving the church, where are we headed to? >> we are going to go to the far southern part of town, which is where all the wealthy people lived. the mosting to visit well-known and visited sites. back inpictures going decades as far back as the 1870's. people come together pictures taken -- to get their pictures taken.
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we are looking at the crying while. well, the largest artisan as it was told. it was dug for a building that was right in front of me. a cottonarted as factory. a new yorker converted it into the largest mansion in the state at the time. when it was supposed to be a factory, they had piping, and they put water from the well into the walls. they left it there as the first geothermal heating and cooling. they were doing geothermal in the 1850's. artesian wells are significant to the region. we could not have cotton plantation until we had these wells. in the prairie, there are very few natural springs. until you could drill a well down below, what is called the alk, you would hit
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it, and it would come up. artesian wells are not natural,, there would be technology involved. until that, you cannot have all the mules or slaves on the property. once you have these artesian wells, that's when the cotton boom happened. in the town of cahawba, there 28.d at least cahawba was known as the city of artesian wells because they had so many. about 1880, this became a ghost town. were 200 houses still standing, not occupied. there was still a lot of the fabric left. just a few structures left, mostly ruins and remnants and a lot of archaeology. when visitors come here, they do a number of things.
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peoplen purpose is for to appreciate that history is not just in a textbook, not just in the museums, not just even in the historic homes, but it's out in the landscape. there are remnants of southern history out in the landscape. there are messages that were left behind from the long dead residents of cuyahoga. all you have to do is -- of cahawba. all you have to do is slow down and look around. there could be a plant that doesn't belong that somebody planted in 1820 and it is still growing. it could be a tombstone or artesian well. if you are listening, they tell you stuff. it is kind of the dead speak of cahawba. ♪ ♪
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♪ announcer: on march 21, 1960 five, around 3200 marchers left selma to make the 50 mile trek to the state capital in montgomery. when they reached the capital on march 25, the marchers had grown to 25,000. next, we learn about the edmund pettus bridge, the starting point of the march. >> when you name a bridge after
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edmund pettis. , certain things happen. marvelyou stand a modern with a name of someone who supported white supremacy for decades. it's also -- he's also a confederate war hero. at frannie anyone going over the bridge, they see the name, and it evokes the sense of the past and present coming together. you have a modern bridge stamped with the name of a farmer possibly kkk leader, and keyboards of white supremacy here in the south. the edmund pettus bridge, construction began in 1939 at the end of the depression. it was completed in 1940. it was to replace the much older and dysfunctional wooden bridge that people had to crank by hand if there was a ship coming through. the linkant to update between montgomery, the state capital, and the black belt here in dallas county.
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it was pretty much designed to be an entry point for people leaving the black belt going into montgomery to visit the capital. the connection of the bridge economically is that many people would come to the capital to secure political favor or make ore kind of political speech seek political capital to improve conditions to the black belt, or conversely, the white planters to attempt to constrict and control black laborers more strictly. bridge was very much a margin -- modern marvel. he replaced an older wooden structure. his kindtead came the scor of magical steel, that evoked this mid-20th century modernism. it is spare architecture, a series of beams supported by spans. it connoted a sense of modernity
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for people coming across the bridge to montgomery or selma. the bridge was named for edmund pettus almost immediately. there was a little surprised about that. he had been a major figure in alabama political history up until his death in the early 20th century. the was from alabama. he was born to a rural cotton family in limestone county in the north. he went to a small college in tennessee. he returned and studied law, and became a successful lawyer and judge. when he became a lawyer, he would have been amongst the money men in the south in alabama in the 1820's. when he moved to selma in the early 1800s, he became a lawyer here. any lawyer who was successful worked with, defended, are represented white planters here, men who owned slaves iran that -- and ran the tracks of land that grew cotton. his real career success began
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during the civil war. almosted with the csa immediately and rose through the ranks to become a brigadier general. by the end of the war, he was commanding multiple regiments. he actually suffered a near fatal injury at the end of the war. when the war ended, he became automatically at hero. here was someone who had led thousands in battle in his glorious cause. after the civil war, he comes back to dallas county, settled in selma, and rises as a powerful lawyer. he basically runs the democratic state convention for many decades. anyone who wants to go to washington basically has to work with him here in town. he finally accepts the call to public office in 1887 as a u.s. senator, and would serve until his death in 1907. there, he became a spokesperson. like many men of his time, he and a power in alabama supporter of white supremacy.
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certain records indicate he was a member of the klan. one record indicates he was the head of it here in this state. as he was senator during his term of office, alabama passed the 1901 convention which famously stripped most blacks and many poor whites of certain basic liberties they had won during the civil war. specifically, the polls were largely closed to blacks. disenfranchisement became a powerful vehicle for local politicians to manage the black votes. here in dallas county, there was a tremendous black to white ratio. blacks are outnumbered the whites. effect of allowing this state constitution to under the tenure in senate, alabama passed the state constitution withstands as an
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example of of the way other state governments went to great lengths to re-create a version of the old south for the new the life of the bridge, occupies a good -- an important point in american history. it comingeneration, -- it went from becoming a place of racial separation to a place of racial liberation. this became the setting for one of the most important moments in the civil rights movement. during that time, king has decided he was going to make a pitch for voting rights here. bridge, this one concrete space, one modern marvel, buckwheat the memory of white held the memory of
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white supremacy, but then blacks crossed to vote. some were grappling with what do you do with the name, knowing that pettus and self supported white primacy -- white supremacy, and this became a passageway from segregation to integration. communities are struggling with this, and, on the one hand, you do not want to forget our dark past, you want to teach our past to your children and have that as a conversation where this used to be a place that did not let -- welcome african-americans, yet, also, with the need to inject into that bridge, and equally powerful memory, the place of revolution, one of king's greatest moments. here's where 25,000 people came
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together to testify to the fullest understanding of american democracy that, no matter who you are, you can go cross this bridge and demand your right to vote. how do you balance the dark past and the positives? for many historians, we want to preserve both. the original name is important to keep because it reminds them of how far we have come. >> we can't have a ribbon that is just -- a revisionist district. there is something ironic about the fact it is named after a confederate general, a u.s. senator from alabama was a part of the coup lucks clan -- ku klux klan. but now, it is known all around the world for the courageous fight that took place here. it is known for that.
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when i think about helping revitalize selma, you can't pay for the marketing of the fact that the whole world knows about ettus bridge because of the event that took place on that bridge. if you ask folks who grew up in selma, we know the complicated history that is selma. the fact that civil war and civil rights solidified side-by-side here. we can't change that history. it is a part of american history. it is important we embrace our history. even the painful parts. tell our own story, because if we were from alabama, or don't -- or selma, they may not see it through the lens of the people who are from here. we can't change that history, but we can learn from it.
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i think it is important we learn from its. -- it. this weekend, american history tv is joining our spectrum cable partners to showcase a history of selma, alabama. to learn more about the city on our current tour, visit we continue with our history look at selma. during the civil war, some of became the second largest manufacturing distribution point of war material within the confederate states of america. in the latter part of the war, the last year and a half, it is estimated that selma supplied half or two thirds of all the ammunition and supplies used in the western portion of the confederacy. areinventory of the arsenal -- arsenal was categorized.
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in the arsenal, there were over one million cartridges, 60,000 artillery shells, on and on and on. selma was not insignificant. selma was not involved in the manufacturing process, and at the time, selma was not in the role of being looked at as becoming a manufacturing distribution site. some a contributed over 600 men to the war effort. as the federals began to tighten the news on the confederacy through the blockade of portes and through the taking of vicksburg and members of mississippi river, the confederate leadership remembered that they had to move dark graynts to the " interior," of the confederacy. they look at what areas are conducive to producing warm material and distributing.
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avenues,deracy had two east, west, distribution. that was through the way up -- rail lines. the problem with the southern line, was that it was not complete. the rail lines came to montgomery and anything transported had to be put on selma,ip, right down to 70 miles by river, and back up to the rails. that's was not ideal, but when some of the northern areas fell, that north route was gone. it was not available. this.was primed for it has deep river access to the port of mobile.
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they have access to rail lines to the east and west, and also, a very short distance from the river valley coal and iron fields. exhaustively -- and almost inexhaustible -- an almost inexhaustible supply. shortly after that, an existing boundary in selma was able to secure contracts with the new government to produce heavy cannon, iron plating ammunitions. that foundry would later develop in 1863 into a joint, navy, army venture and eventually a navy venture known as the selma naval gun foundry. at that time, that's gave selma the focal point of manufacturing as well as distribution.
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the naval gun foundry was located on the site where we are today. museum of history and archives site. at this site, would have been found multiple buildings that encompassed 13 steam engines, boilers, you had a facility of about eight acres that was designed and built to manufacture great can and that the time. in weight from about 8000 pounds up to 25,000 pounds. these are not small weapons. at the time, they were considered the finest weapon, muzzle loaded, for size in the world. seven inchure a rifled cannon required over 1000 hours a man-hour machining. this was not done with our tools of today, but with. tools run by steam powers such as this lake behind us -- lathe
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behind us. this one would not handle a piece of casting, a canon 20 feet long. this would have been used for some of the smaller ones to go along with it. manufacturing of these canons, was an exacting thing. it produced here -- produced here was the canon which was considered the finest of its day. we are on that property here, but addition to us was a shipyard which encompassed 13.5 acres. its importance is that selma produced more ironclad warships than any other site in the confederacy. there were four produced year. tennessee, as well as others. they were produced here and also, not as well-known, there was a submarine produced here. it was called the saint patrick.
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the most famous was the css tennessee. to give a scale of ship, this was an ironclad vessel that was 209 feet long. to put that into perspective, think about the last football game you saw, this ship is two thirds the length of that football field. prior to the war, there was no shipbuilding industry in some at all. yet, they were able to produce this. they did it in such a rush that's when the construction was trees with embers were still standing in the poorest. this was an effort -- forest. this was an effort put forth by people who'd originally do not have the manpower or skills to do these things. what they were able to accomplish was nothing short of totally awesome. here, we are on the banks of the alabama river in selma. in late march of 1865, general james harrison wilson moved
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on selma and he had spent the winter their training and equipping his troops for what was the largest and best equipped cavalry force that the war in this country had ever seen. as they moved down onto selma, the confederate defenders were unsure of their destination. wilson began to move, general frederick steele moved up from the coast. and what general forced in general taylor, who are the department commanders, thoughts was a movement upon montgomery. they had wilson coming down from the north, steel from the south, and they weren't sure what to do with the limited manpower. he was forced to send some men towards steele in anticipation of that. it was not until wilson had been moving for four days that they were certain selma was the ultimate goal.
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wilson appeared before selma, on the morning of april 2 1865. forest met him in the trenches of selma. selma had been protected by a series of continuous earthworks that stretched from the east side of selma in an arc or or shape, about 3.5 miles around to the west side and the bank of the alabama river. it was defended on the south side by the river and not approachable that way. general forrest was forced to defend the town with a cobbled group. he only had about 1500 men who were dependable troops. then, you had the militia and state troops, and even private citizens in the service. general forest did not have his normal cop lament of men --
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normal did not have his men. there were distinct this advantages to the federal troopers. short,tle of selma was intense, and fair. wilson's men had come down from the north. they were attacking the city and the north and west sides. in the middle was these militia, the older men, younger boys who are not battle tested. they were the weak link and wilson was aware of that. attacked, those men were attacked primarily and they put up quick resistance -- they put up no quick resistance. that allowed them to come into
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the fortifications in the confederate rear. confederate, the troops had no choice but to fall back to an unfinished interline towork closer to down to try establish a second line of defense, which they did. activelyal troops chased them over half a mile of ground into the work. once they got to the interline -- interline, general wilson, attacked in a cap are we charge -- in a cavalry charge. up andtack was broken the wilson reformed with dismounted men on foot to attack. at which point, they carried that. at this time, the confederates had withdrawn. the confederates were trying to get out. you had short, intense, on the
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streets escaping confederates running into intense fights and they would break up. putof the federal troopers to pen what he experienced. he said women and children extreme in, excitement tie everywhere, it was most like the horrors of war. they captured city burning. demoralized army retreating and a victorious one advancing. that was the scene in selma on that night. at that tonight, the city was open. to his credit, general wilson posted a guard at any house that requested one. that night, it did not happen. the troops had free reign of the city, and there was outrageous, robberies, no one was safe. no private citizen, black or white was safe. left selma -- the
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destruction of selma was almost complete. the animals of the federal troops brought in, that they rode in on, they were broken wereand unusable, and killed and replaced with animals captured here. when they did this, they killed them where they stood. the common area was full of dead and dying animals. the locals had no way to move them. they had to bring ox is to drive them into the river. federals could not use in the food stocks, they destroyed it. almostple here were left with starving conditions when they left. selma had gone far from being at the beginning of the war a very wealthy, rich agricultural area to wine, at the end of the war,
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was destitute and unable to care for itself. but, through the intrepid miss of the people, they quickly , byilt and became what was the latter part of the 1800s, the political and economic center of the state of alabama. not much was heard of the battle dayuse selma felt the same generally was forced out of petersburg. that thethe same day federal troops left selma, april 9, 1865, was the same day the general lee surrendered to grant. selma was rendered to a footnote at the end of the war, but, had the loss of selma occurred six month or a year earlier, without a doubt, the war would have ended soon. this weekend, american history tv is featuring selma, alabama.
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c-span's abuse to her visited many sites to showcase the history. in 1820 and founded given its name by alabama's only u.s. vice president. learn more about summa, all weekend on american history tv. selma, all weekend of american history tv. >> by district includes birmingham as the largest city but include montgomery, selma, as well as nine counties of the historic alabama black belt. i feel like i'm a member of congress today, which is a wonderful upbringing that i had here in selma. i grew up with a great understanding of my city's place in history. every year, others would come back and reenact the rich -- bridge crossing. i wouldery young age,
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see these wonderful civil rights activists once the year come back to my church, and help to reenact the march. it was really special for me growing up in that church, growing up in selma, and brown chapel. the first to see and meet john lewis as a young member of the choir and then on the board on osha. him my collie, all i can say is god bless m america. i had to pinch myself sitting next to him because i knew my very existence as the first african-american woman to represent the state of alabama was only made possible because of his sacrifice in his struggle. people come to selma but they come once a year to march across that bridge. they keep on marching to montgomery, to birmingham, they do not spend much money here in selma. my challenge as the member of
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congress representing my hometown is to figure out how this wonderful history that lets is not selma -- selma only the birthplace of the civil civil rightsnt -- voting movement, it also has a long history of civil war. this place has this important history living side-by-side. it is a history that people come back to revisit. i think it is important to me to learn how to leverage the history of selma to help selma economically. 19,000 and the median in our city is less than $20,000. it is important to understand that not only does history live here, but people who need opportunity, need better resources and better opportunity live here. everyday i fight in congress, i fight with the understanding and knowledge that it is really important for me to do everything i can to provide the
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same opportunities and resources that i have had available to me to people back here in selma. >> selma is in a place where we need to rebuild. i don't want to say complacent but, when the movement was over, there was nobody left to help selma way it was the same in at the end of the movement. programs to keep life in anople about integrated society. i think that, had we had going,y to keep that then selma would be in a better place. haveo think that we something to teach our children, what the movement was all about,
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and the importance of voting. specialn continues it feature on selma with it to her of old live oak cemetery. >> the cemetery was founded in 1829. outsidely cemetery was of city limits, but now it is within the city of selma. cemetery, back in the 19th century, was almost also like a park where people come, stroll, and in the evenings. be introducing you to some of the famous residents, including a vice president of the united states, several senators, the first staten-american from the
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of alabama elected into the u.s. house of representatives and the first female in the legislature. you're looking at the muzzle president ofice franklin pierce. he came in 1818 to the alabama church and established the plantation here. in 1819, whenever alabama became a state, he was one of the founders of selma and he named selma. in 1819, as alabama was moving toward statehood, he was chosen to be in the constitutional convention for alabama where he helped to write the state constitution or the new state of alabama. as oneere, he was chosen of two senators to represent the state in washington dc. rufus king was in office before
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the events of the session of the civil war began. he was a firm unionist. he was firmly rooted in the sense that we must stay together as a union. the senators live together in washington for about 20 years before he returned to alabama. there was speculation that they had more than a friendship relationship, but there is no basis for that. there has never been any kind of letters found or anything like that. in 1852, he was chosen as the to the manna won the election. he was ill and went to cuba under the advisory of the doctor in order to recuperate down there. while he was in cuba, the senate passed a special bill that to swear him and as
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the vice president of the united states. official sworn in on foreign territory. he realized while he was in cuba, he was not going to recuperate and his health continued to decline. he came back to this plantation in selma and died the following day. king was buried at his plantation across the alabama river, but was moved to the cemetery because of his importance to the city. the muzzle liam is a greek revival with the polyesters beside the door. it was erected in honor of his vice presidency. right next to the king mausoleum, we are going to be coming to a monument to john tyler morgan. he was born in 1824 in the state of tennessee. in 1855, he moved to selma and married a local summer girl. and alabamaattended
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concession convention. he was a strong state right supporter. he felt the federal government was overstepping its bounds in regulating the state of alabama and other southern states. he voted to secede from the union. war, got in the civil to the rank of general, and in 1876, he was appointed as the senator for the state. two of the most important things he was known for, he was known as the expansionist. he was very much in favor of acquiring hawaii, cuba and the philippines. also, the second thing, he is the father of the panama canal because he very much thought the united states should be involved in a canal system that went through central america. the french started the panama can now, they soon gave up on it, and he was instrumental in working with theodore roosevelt in making sure the united states
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was instrumental in finishing the canal. during reconstruction, john tyler morgan was very much focused on trying to rebuild the space of alabama. he was not in support of rights for african-americans. he was very much in favor of maintaining jim crow laws in the south to keep society stable. he served six terms on the united states senate and died here in selma in 1907. we are now standing at the grave of benjamin turner. in northrn in 1825 carolina, and in 1830, he was brought as a slave with his owner, which was a way where. his intellectual abilities and educated him alongside her white children. the owner ofted by the st. james hotel. he put him in as the manager of his hotel.
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he also operate delivery -- operated several other small businesses. during the war, when he would fight in the battle, he left the benjamin sterling turner to run the hotel. he was also the founder for the first school for african-american children in selma, and served a short term on the selma city council. he got off of the council to believerefused public servants should accept money for the servants -- service. while he was there in washington, his main causes were amnesty for the confederates and secure aid for the devastated south. he was very much supported by the people here in selma because he was one of those people that rose above race and above political parties in order to
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work for the good of the country and community. his grave is marked with the flag of the confederacy because of his efforts in trying to secure aid for the devastated south and amnesty for the confederates who fought in the war. we are now at the grave of patty wilkins. she was born in 1875 to a selma at ay, and was educated boys school in selma. her father realized her intellectual abilities and put her into a school for boys, in which the teacher said she was the smartest student in the class, for a girl. she was married in 1898, and in 1910, she began to be involved with the selma suffrage movement. that was the first movement in the state of alabama. she soon joined the alabama equal suffrages association and was a member there. women were allowed the right to vote.
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in 1922, she was elected to the alabama legislature. she was ostracized by the fine young ladies of selma because they thought it was scandalous for a woman to be involved in politics. they consider that to be dirty and for men. sheserved one term, proposed bills for health care, and for education. when she came back to selma, she remained involved in women's voters issues. she is buried right here between her son that died and her husband. is, she was buried standing up because her husband said she always did up. ofare now at the grave ellidy. she met two guys from xoma and ended up -- from selma and ended up marrying one.
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in the cause of the confederacy. she believed --she visited several times washington, d.c., and the last time she was up there, president leaking -- lincoln told her she cannot come back because she was selling money and medicines into her petticoat to bring it across the line of the confederacy. she died here in selma. the memorial you see behind us was carved in marble in italy. to husband send it back haven't redone because he said her hair was not as beautiful as her hair was in person. she was the one who is part of the women's moral association that became the ubc. we are now it confederate circle -- now at confederate circle.
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her husband, nathaniel dawson, was the one who planted the trees we see here. she was part of the ladies memorial association and she to where have an area she can memorialize the people in the war. the city of selma gave the land to them to use and build this confederate circle. in the circle, there are graves of confederate unknown soldiers in, plus, weed have the monument that's was built in 1878 to commemorate the lost cause. there are 155 confederate soldiers whose remains were moved here and are buried right here behind me. that's to mark those who died in the war. in this cemetery, we can see the how it the state and prospered, how the state was involved in civil war, and we
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have many prominent people who made selma a better place after that time. >> our cities to her staff recently traveled to selma, alabama, to learn more about its rich history. learn more about selma and other stops on our two or at you are watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. tonight, on q and a, the university of virginia history professor william hitchcock on his book the age of eisenhower " america and the world in the 1950's." >> i call it the discipline the presidency. eisenhower and the way he carried himself was a disciplined man, a great athlete when he was young, and organized man in every respect, very methodical. that is how he ran the white house as well.
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and a extremely organized lot of people, especially the future president john kennedy had criticized eisenhower for being so disciplined and predictable. four eisenhower it meant that when crises came, he had a plan. he knew how to respond and turn to -- who do turn to -- who to turn to. he said plans are worthless but planning is good. he was very systematic in the way he was governing. he chaired the national security council every week and he had his thumb on government. he trusted the process, believed the federal government could work well if it was well led. t on c-span tonigh , eight eastern -- in a cut eastern. >> we talk with james grossman
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in washington dc in early january. he explained to the field has changed in the past decade and why he feels the study of history is important, especially in this polarized, local environment. this is about 20 minutes. we are at the 2018 american historical association convention in washington dc. jim grossman is a very busy man. thank you for spending time with us. >> thank you for taking the time. >> tell me what is happening here at the marriott hotel and the adjoining hotels -- adjoining hotels. 4500 historians are here to discuss work, to share ideas, to resurrect old friendships, and to be historians. >> what is the kind of historians that would attend? >> it is everything.


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