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Remembering Selma

Remembering Selma

How it took the murder of a white clergyman to trigger change in the US when black protestors had been suffering and active for equal rights for years.

When many of us think about the civil rights movement, we remember the courage of the black protesters who risked their lives and livelihoods to push for equal rights. But obscured in this history is the fact that it took the murder of a white clergyman to trigger the national outrage about rights abuses in the South that led to real change.

selma2 copyAt the heart of this story is the death of the Rev. James Reeb, who was in Selma, Ala., for protests in March 1965. In this Op-Doc video, one of the other white clergymen with him, the Rev. Clark Olsen, tells how they were attacked by a group of white men, killing Mr. Reeb. The assault became national news.

Now retired in Asheville, N.C., Mr. Olsen says that publicly sharing these events helps him deal with his guilt that the country seemed to care more about the attack he experienced than the plight of Southern blacks at the time.


Image: By Peter Pettus (Library of Congress) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

posted by Ann Fontaine


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