The Selma Interpretive Center has computer kiosks that allow visitors to watch videos of people who participated in the Civil Rights Movement speak about their experiences. They not only have videos of protestors, marchers, and journalists, but also those who oppose the Civil Rights Movements. This videos of “The Opposition,” as they are labeled, were one of the most intriguing aspects of the center.
Patricia Goodwin, a white Selma native, was one of the most intriguing. As I walked around Selma, and through the Lowndes County Interpretive Center, I considered the implications of these words. In Selma, I wondered if the presence of people like Ms. Goodwin and Mr. Black was a contributing factor to its dilapidated state. There has been extensive white flight, and it is hard to separate that from such comments. Racism could also be the reason people are so reluctant to move to Selma, or to try to rebuild the city, because some may have negative perceptions of a community largely made up of black citizens. Throughout the Lowndes Country Interpretive Center, I considered the problem of the words spoken on the videos. These people were recorded decades after the movement ended and goals had supposedly been achieved, but how much has really been accomplished if there are still people who believe these things? If they are passionate enough about their beliefs to share them with a video crew for a civil rights museum, those people would certainly not be afraid to take actions in line with their ideas. While I am proud of the progress made in the Civil Rights Movement, the words of Ms. Goodwin and Mr. Black show that many people choose to ignore what really happened, and replace the facts with insulting falsities. We need to educate people on the realities of the movement, that people were killed and severely injured, not simply having a party. People fought and sacrificed for a cause they truly believed in, and we have a responsibility to continue that legacy. Full civil rights have not been accomplished for all, and the words of “The Opposition” demonstrate that the fight is not yet over. In the face of such discrimination, we must stand up.