Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Selma Alabama

Craig AFB in Selma Alabama was Ray's first assignment in the Air Force. We moved there in March of 1969 and left in September of the same year. It was two years after the March to Selma and segregation was alive and well in this little town. When we told my mother we had orders to go there, the first thing she said was "Selma Alabama, is that safe?" Actually, I liked Selma, it was small town, warm weather and probably since I was white very friendly. The Klan had a rally in downtown Selma one Saturday afternoon, I had been down there to shop, and never saw a thing. I remember someone telling me that the Klan could rally all they wanted, they just couldn't wear their hoods. Sometimes, I wish I had seen them. It would have been like seeing the devil from a distance. The only memory I had of any special treatment I got, was being in a checkout line, maybe even in Teppers and a black man was in front of me. He turned around and moved away for me to get in front of him. Being a good non southerner, I wouldn't take his place. Maybe that is an indication of racism, so much of it is so small you don't notice it, but everything adds up.
Now, in June 2008, we decide to drive back through Selma on our way home. It has been 39 years since we have been here. Most of the other places we have lived have changed so much we have a hard time recognizing them. Craig has been closed for years, but we recognized the buildings and the housing. We weren't able to determine for sure the mobile home park where we lived, but except for the March Memorial Park before we crossed the Pettus Bridge, it was like entering a time warp. The town looks almost the same. Old post civil war buildings, the high school was the same. We recognized it all.
However, some things are different. We ate at a restaurant on the edge of town. The clientele and the staff are all integrated. There were black professionals as well as white little league players there and it was OK. This would never have existed when we lived there in 1969. I know that it isn't all good in Selma. But having been there then and to see the change now is heartening. It may take a long time to change but change does come.

1 comment:

Enuk's Mom said...

Very interesting story. I'm glad you shared the before and after. It's amazing that racism still exists after all these years and I'm appalled that it does, but at least it's better and more equal then it has ever been. Hopefully, the growth will just continue and the hatred will go away. Good for you for not going in front of the man even though he stepped aside.