Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hayneville, Alabama: Lowndes Interpretive Center

The protesters who took part in the 1965 walk from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama didn't know it at the time, but they marched into history.

A court order allowed the march to happen after a violent incident in Selma. Several hundred made the walk of about 50 miles. However, they stopped for four nights along the way.

Campsite number 2 was at the Rosie Steele Farm in Lowndes County. It wasn't the safest place to stop in those days. The county's white landowners sometimes kicked black tenant farmers off the land for registering to vote. But the marchers made it through the night, and kept moving toward the ultimate goal of the state capital.

The National Park Service is in the midst of establishing three interpretive centers along the route. The one in Montgomery hasn't been built yet, although the subject is covered in other places. The center in Selma is fairly small; expansion to other floors of the building are said to be coming. That leaves Lowndes County, and it's a good one.

The highlight is a 20-minute film about the march. Several participants are interviewed about why they took such strong measures to get the right to vote. And those wise "old" people are upset about how today's young people don't even bother to exercise that right. It's powerful stuff, and should be shown in high schools around the country. The facility also has several exhibits on the march, which includes the statues shown in the picture.

The Interpretive Center may be in the midst of farmland, but it's definitely worth going out of your way for a visit.

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