Tuesday, April 9
8:30 ride the ferry from Gee's Bend to Camden
10:00 Meet Sheryl Threadgill at Antioch Baptist Church in Camden
Talk with local members of Camden's government and local church members.
11:30 Lunch at Miss Kitty’s Restaurant in Camden
Tour Camden's Public middle School and participate in a short theater class
Visit Black Belt Treasures,
3:30 Visit with the BAMA Kids and share poems, songs and speeches
6:00 Pizza dinner with BAMA Kids and ambassadors from other local schools the Chamber of Commerce
Over the course of this odyssey what has potentially been most incredible for me was how loving and accepting everyone we have met has been. From the oldest adults to the youngest children, everyone has been as nice as any of us could possible hope for. I don't believe that anyone we have met with has really said anything mean, detrimental, or anything with any malicious intent to a single one of us.
I can't help but see my own privilege. I may not be the riches person I know, but I have so much more than the people I met on this odyssey. I may not be able to get everything I want, but I can get everything I need. I don't go hungry and I probably never will.
This day has been so fun! Talking to the BAMA kids and playing with them has been so great. I am so lucky to be in Alabama.
Throughout this odyssey I have been able to experience a new culture that other kids might not be as able to do, so I am feeling really grateful about this experience.
I feel like the Civil Rights Movement leaders are just turning over in their graves. The schools in Camden are basically still segregated. I just couldn't believe it. It seems like all the work that those leaders did, all the walls they tore down are beginning to be built again. Look at the new voter registration laws and the black public schools and white private school in Camden. Our job as young people is to make sure those old walls never get re-built.
I am sad to see this life-changing odyssey end, but I know that I will tell my grandkids about the time that I walked and me with marchers. The one thing that I am positive about is that I will return.
Boys on the Camden ferry
The ferry moves up the Alabama river
Eighth grade ladies
Miles talks with Reverend Pettway
Drawing in the shade of Antioch Baptist church
Sheryl Threadgill speaks to us in Antioch Baptist church
Outside Antioch Baptist church with local members of Camden's government
Lunch at Miss Kitty's
Entering Camden's Middle School
The Assistant Principle welcomes us to Camden Middle School
Theater exercise in focus
We tour the school
We meet up with Mary Lee Bandolph at Black Belt Treasures, al local craft gallery
Exploring Black Belt Treasures
We go to the BAMA Kids headquarters
Sheryl Theadgill, Head of Camden's chamber of commerce and leader of the BAMA Kids
Hand in hand
Mady recites her poem
Lili gives her speech in the voice of Ella Baker
Pete gives his speech
Before dinner Mady gets a new hair style
BAMA Kids who joined us for dinner
We end the day with a powerful game of RedRover
The profound fairness of play
Monday, April 8
10:00 Joanne Bland, Foot Soldier and activist - Tour of Selma
4:00 Discussion with Pat Godwin of the Friends of Forrest
Dinner provided by Sharon and David with Joanne Bland and Annie Pearl Avery.
I loved doing my speech at Browns Chapel knowing that Barack Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Amelia Boynton all spoke from the same pulpit.
It struck me as ignorant when Pat said "Racism is about defending your race and not anything about discrimination".
In the beginning of the day we saw a short film depicting Bloody Sunday and Mrs. Bland as one of the marchers and after the film was over a woman talked about courage. Courage is the word I would use to describe the Civil Rights Movement.
The Lady with long nails
just another figure
in this community.
The lady with long nails,
the boy with nice shoes,
the man with a pretty car.
And here comes this parade of outsiders
these white kids who know nothing about the South
and they stare at the lady with long nails
they ask questions
but to the boy with nice shoes
and the man with the pretty car
and every other community member
she's just another lady
another lonely individual
no matter how much she can satisfy herself
with long nails
or pretty cars
During my trip to Alabama I got an in depth, hands on look at African American history by mingling with people of the other race. I have been out of this country quite a few times and still Alabama is the most foreign place I have every visited. I can still see a very vivid split between the races, I can see hate, I scan see arrogance, and I can see pride.
Live Oaks Cemetery
Graves made of marble
graves made of stone
but below the earth
lie Confederate restless bones
Trees left standing
silent watching heads
draped with the beards
of those now left for dead
Joanne told us an incredible story of her time during Bloody Sunday. What really struck me was the violence that normal people, people who might hold themselves to higher religious ideals, could inflict on helpless children and old people.
A little late but worth the wait - Mary Lee Bandolph sings at church, Sunday
First glimpse of the Edmund Pettus Bridge We meet Joanne Bland Joanne captures our attention as she describes our day's adventure Trooping through Joanne's Selma Says it all Up to no good Selma's famous Sankofa mural. In front of Joanne's childhood home in the projects next to Browns Chapel Lunch at Tabernacle Baptist Church, home of the first mass meetings for voter registration in Selma Jonah delivers his speech at Browns Chapel Sarah delivers her speech at the Pulpit of Browns Chapel Zack recites his speech at the same podium that Malcolm X spoke from in Browns Chapel Eben recites his speech in Browns Chapel At the memorial to the Confederate Soldier in Live Oaks Cemetery Isabella gives her speech at Live Oaks Cemetery Mac give his speech at Live Oaks Cemetery Two by two we cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge We march to remember all the Foot Soldiers who met such opposition on Bloody Sunday The backside of Selma Playing under the bridge Terran gives his speech in the park next to the Edmund Pettus Bridge Gabe gives his speech in the park next to the Edmund Pettus Bridge Ian gives his speech in the park next to the Edmund Pettus Bridge We reconvene at the Live Oaks Cemetry A little art making Under the spanish moss Pat Godwin of the Friends of Forrest Pat speaks to us about her views of the Confederacy. Jazmin and Joanne Bland's granddaughter Jasmin Joanne joins us for dinner, singing and dialogue We sing Annie Pearl joins us
First glimpse of the Edmund Pettus Bridge
We meet Joanne Bland
Joanne captures our attention as she describes our day's adventure
Trooping through Joanne's Selma
Says it all
Up to no good
Selma's famous Sankofa mural.
In front of Joanne's childhood home in the projects next to Browns Chapel
Lunch at Tabernacle Baptist Church, home of the first mass meetings for voter registration in Selma
Jonah delivers his speech at Browns Chapel
Sarah delivers her speech at the Pulpit of Browns Chapel
Zack recites his speech at the same podium that Malcolm X spoke from in Browns Chapel
Eben recites his speech in Browns Chapel
At the memorial to the Confederate Soldier in Live Oaks Cemetery
Isabella gives her speech at Live Oaks Cemetery
Mac give his speech at Live Oaks Cemetery
Two by two we cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge
We march to remember all the Foot Soldiers who met such opposition on Bloody Sunday
The backside of Selma
Playing under the bridge
Terran gives his speech in the park next to the Edmund Pettus Bridge
Gabe gives his speech in the park next to the Edmund Pettus Bridge
Ian gives his speech in the park next to the Edmund Pettus Bridge
We reconvene at the Live Oaks Cemetry
A little art making
Under the spanish moss
Pat Godwin of the Friends of Forrest
Pat speaks to us about her views of the Confederacy.
Jazmin and Joanne Bland's granddaughter Jasmin
Joanne joins us for dinner, singing and dialogue
Annie Pearl joins us
Sunday, April 7
A day with Mary Lee Bendolph
Church at Ye Shall Know the Truth Baptist Church with Reverend Clinton Pettway
Picnic with the folks of Gee’s Bend.
Dinner provided by Sharon and David Jackson
Today was a day of Gee's Bend, a day of faith, a day of play, a day of fun, but most importably a day of unconditional love. Today was a day of walking into a church and being hugged by a multitude of strangers with an almost completely different life than my own. Today was a day of teaching, of talking, of fishing, of laughing, of play, and of learning. These people of Gee's Bend were so loving, so polite, yet so intense and invested in there lives. Everyone in this community just seemed so happy. Maybe they didn't have computers and fancy houses, which may bring happiness to us, but this was a group of people who could create their own happiness. The Gee's Bend people could find happiness within themselves, each other, and God.
The Kid in Blue
"What's your name"
an apparently THAT mad us friends
enough for him to start
chasing me around like
The Integrated Playground
Sometimes I think back
and try and imagine
the ingregated playground of dreams
where little black boys
and little white girls
played and paraded in the streams
where the sky was one color
they chase one another
in the integrated playground of dreams
There is a white door and a black, which do you go through. I answered white even though it sounds racist. Everyone else answered black because they did not want to sound racist. But if picking white sounds racist why does black not?
Visiting the Ye Shall Know the Truth Baptist Church was much different than any other church I have visited! It felt much more alive. Reverend Petway was moving around more and everyone was responding to him. It was probably one of the few services I've gone to that I didn't make me want to go to sleep. As much as I hate doing anything related to music and religion, I actually found the singing and music fairly interesting, as far as singing goes.
The people of Gee's Bend almost don't have to quilt their community is already so tightly sewn together.
To walk into my childhood
to see a child run
and play and jump
frolicking in a world
crafted out of sand
To see a girl jump off swings
and pull people down slides
I would never have noticed
her dark ebony skin
or her rough
had it not been
for the sparrow
who flew above me
As I reached out
to pluck him from the sky
the sun came out from behind a cloud
and reflected off my pale white skin
but not off the children in the park
Ready for Church
Ye Shall Know The Truth Baptist Church in Gee's Bend
Ready for a long service
After a warm welcome we sing with the congregation
Mary Lee Bandolph sings in the front row
Dieter is invited to recite his speech during the service.
Trevor is invited to recite his speech during the service
Spencer is invited to recite his speech during the service
Josh sings the song he wrote during the service
Kristin Pettway plays the organ for the service
Member of the Prayer Team, China Pettway
Mary Lee Bendolph and China Pettway
The whole choir
A multi-purpose space is being built behind the church
Setting up the Hilltop quilt in a park on the banks of the Alabama river
Stella Pettway shows Lexi and Hannah how to lay out a quilt
The work of quilting begins
Playing in the park
Mary Lee quilted a few blessed stitches
No caption needed
Talking and singing
Lexi recites her speech in the voice of Fanie Lou Hamer
Jeremy recites his speech to a enthralled audience
Lili recites her speech in the voice of Ella Baker
Lexi and Ian examine a quilt at the Gee's Bend Quilting Collective
Magic hour on the road home to Selma
Food, dialogue, writing, singing, and bed?
Saturday, April 6
Visit Jimmie Lee Jackson’s grave, stop in Marion
11:00 The Safe House Black History Museum – Ms. Theresa Burroughs (civil rights footsoldier)
12:30 Lunch at the Pie Lab
Afternoon Perry Lakes Park and Barton's Beach Natural Preserve
Visit to Charlie Lucas's Selma studio, The Belly of the Ship
Dinner in Selma
Cement is hard lifeless and cold
Love is safe nice and warm
You may think that these are opposite
but opposites attract
Love is life and is warm
Cement is hard and cold
put together is true beauty
In the Wizard of OZ, the Tin Man worries about his lack of heart, but the Tin Man we know has more heart than anyone I have ever met.
Today we started out at Jimmie Lee Jackson's grave. I stood over his grave almost the entire time. At first, it was a normal grave, something I had seen before, but as people lost interest and walked away I stood alone with the grave. As I stood, I don't know why, I just couldn't, just didn't want to leave. I was only thinking about him. I felt as though I could feel him. I felt he was under me, I felt he was over me. As I walked away from his grave I felt and still do feel that he was and is watching.
I loved how Theresa Burroughs said she was not a trouble maker as a child, then started talking about how she wrote letters as a nine year old to the department of agriculture about inequality and almost made them lose their house.
In the afternoon I was able to admire Alabama's true beauty . We went to Perry Lakes and Barton Beach Park. We went up an insanely tall tower and looked out on the horizon. It was so pretty. All the trees had spanish moss hanging on them. THAT was something I don't normally see.
beaten houses - rusty roofs
short cows grazing under straight rows of trees
an occasional bright pink flash of a bush
swamps with sunken trees, alligators lurking nearby?
Driving through Alabama
At Jimmie Lee Jackson's (martyr of the movement) grave outside Marion AL
Rhea observes the bullet marks left by drive by shooters
Teresa Burroughs (foot soldier of the Movement) started the Safe House Museum
Teresa Burroughs talks to us about her youthful effort for equality. Her eloquence, subtle compassion, and huge heart made her a huge but gentle presence
Sarah studies a document in The Safe House Museum
Lunch at the Pie Lab
Perry Lakes Park
Getting ready to climb the fire tower
A huge view from the 100 foot tower's observation deck
Walking to Barton's Beach
Charlie Lucas's studio in Selma
Limited exposure - high shutter speed
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